Belfast Telegraph

Brian O’Driscoll set to lead the Leinster charge

Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll has been named in the Leinster side for this afternoon's Magners League derby with Ulster at Ravenhill.

O'Driscoll is the only front line Ireland international playing in the game as everyone else is rested under the Player Management Programme.

Both sides enjoyed success in their recent European matches but will need the points to lift themselves back into contention for a top four Magners League finish.

Nine points from their last two games away at Cardiff and Treviso have got Ulster up to fifth and just behind the Ospreys on points difference with Leinster a further two points back in sixth.

Ulster have been dealt a huge blow with Ian Humphreys — man of the match against Bath at The Rec — absent from the match due to an ankle injury picked up in training last week and replaced by Niall O'Connor.

With Andrew Trimble and Paddy Wallace forced to miss the game, exciting young winger Craig Gilroy is drafted in.

Gilroy scored two tries on his debut in the victory at Cardiff and followed that up with another brace of touchdowns in Treviso.

Nevin Spence and Ian Whitten form the midfield partnership with South African Ruan Pienaar keeping his place at scrum half.

Paddy McAllister replaces Tom Court at loose head prop in an otherwise unchanged pack from the game in Bath.

McAllister faces a tough challenge against Leinster's Mike Ross.

Former Springbok captain Johann Muller keeps the Ulster armband as Rory Best continues his recovery from the fractured cheekbone he sustained on Ireland duty.

Despite missing a host of players including Rob Kearney, Luke Fitzgerald, Gordon D'Arcy and Jamie Heaslip, Leinster are still able to name a strong team.

O'Driscoll is partnered in midfield by Fergus McFadden.

Scrum half Isaac Boss makes his first return to Ravenhill since his summer move to Dublin.

Boss played 108 times for Ulster, scoring 70 points, and also won 13 Ireland caps and his battle with Pienaar is an interesting sub plot.

Isa Nacewa has scored 90 points this season and starts at full with Shane Horgan on the right wing.

Australian Shaun Berne deputises for Johnny Sexton at outhalf.

Ireland lock Leo Cullen captains the side and forms an all international second row beside Devin Toner, who made his Irish debut against Samoa in the autumn.

Toner's battle with Ulster's Dan Tuohy will not be for the faint hearted as both will be looking to catch Declan Kidney's eye.

Sean O'Brien moves from blindside flanker to No8 — he was very impressive in both Leinster's games against Clermont and will be another one wanting to put down a marker ahead of the Six Nations.

Belfast Telegraph


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