Kearney's fitness boosts Leinster
Sunday 27 May 2012
Sean O'Brien, the 2011 European player of the year who was man of the match in last week's Heineken Cup final, will be absent when Leinster take on the Ospreys in the RaboDirect Pro12 final in Dublin this afternoon. The flanker has a knee injury. Unfortunately for the Ospreys, the 2012 European player of the year, Rob Kearney has been passed fit and will be at full-back for a Leinster team showing some changes but no glaring weakness. Brian O'Driscoll has also passed a fitness test and starts in the centre; Joe Schmidt, the head coach, is able to drop an All Black World Cup winning lock, Brad Thorn, to the bench.
The Ospreys' head coach, Steve Tandy, said: "Leinster are a great team. What they have achieved in Europe over the last four years" – Heineken Cup wins in 2009, 2011 and 2012 – "speaks for itself, and the nature of their win against Ulster last weekend means that they will be full of confidence.
"Playing at home in front of their own fans will make the task even more difficult for us. But previous games won't count for a thing on Sunday. It is all about the day and who handles pressure the best."
Leinster finished the regular season 10 points clear of the Ospreys and beat Glasgow in the semi-finals. The Welsh region beat Munster 45-10.
"We know we have to improve in certain areas," Tandy said. "We were guilty of putting ourselves under unnecessary pressure in the semi-final, and that meant we had to rely too heavily on our defence. We don't want to have to do that [against Leinster]. We want to be composed and look to dictate territory better. We have to be clinical."
The wing Shane Williams, Wales's leading try-scorer, will play his last match for the Ospreys before his retirement this summer.
Leinster R Kearney; F McFadden, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, I Nacewa; J Sexton, E Reddan; H van der Merwe, S Cronin, M Ross, L Cullen (capt), D Toner, K McLaughlin, J Heaslip, S Jennings. Replacements R Strauss, C Healy or J McGrath, N White, B Thorn, D Ryan, J Cooney, I Madigan, D Kearney.
Ospreys R Fussell; H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, S Williams; D Biggar, R Webb; P James, R Hibbard, A Jones, AW Jones (capt), I Evans, R Jones, J Bearman, J Tipuric. Replacements S Baldwin, R Bevington, A Jarvis, J King, T Smith, K Fotuali'i, M Morgan, T Isaacs.
Referee R Poite (France)
Commonwealth Games 2014: It ain’t London 2012, but Glasgow aims to go ‘with a roar’
Loic Remy to Liverpool: Striker undergoes medical in Boston ahead of £8.5m move
Manchester United transfer news: Arturo Vidal subject of £39m bid - reports
Liverpool transfer news: Javier Manquillo expected to join on two-year loan deal
Louis van Gaal gets tough with Manchester United players, with Darren Fletcher and Luke Shaw berated in public and Phil Jones left looking bemused
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia