Friday 18 January 2019

Fardy ready to take friendly fire for Blues

New man Scott Fardy. Photo: Sportsfile
New man Scott Fardy. Photo: Sportsfile

Coach Leo Cullen will hand Scott Fardy his first Leinster shirt against Premiership club Gloucester for the second of three pre-season matches at Templeville Road this evening (KO 7.30).

Signed as a second row, Fardy will start his contract there beside Ian Nagle.

However, on the evidence of his stand-out season in Super Rugby, his best position is on the blindside.

The Kearney brothers, Rob and Dave, Jordi Murphy and Fergus McFadden all return from injury, injecting international-class experience.

It will be particularly interesting to note the condition of Rob Kearney - he hasn't played for Leinster since January - in what will be a critical season.

Murphy will be keen to make up for lost time too.

An anterior cruciate ligament tore his season to shreds last November on the famous evening for Ireland in Chicago.

The same danger was lurking even at the beginning of the season for inside centre Tom Daly.

The Carlow man has underwent surgery to his right knee for long-term damage done to his ACL.

The man-for-all-positions Isa Nacewa steps into the midfield as Jimmy O'Brien starts for the second time at outside centre.

This is an interesting, under-the-radar choice for the former Newbridge College out-half and Leinster age grade inside centre.

Former Ireland U20s Hugo Keenan, Josh Murphy and Max Deegan will look to translate what they have learned into what they can do.

Half-backs Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne will be eager to make their moves to be the men in place for the first four rounds of the PRO14.

Gloucester have named two sets of 15 and intend to give each 40 minutes.

This will probably lead to a stop-start, patchy game in which Leinster will look to counter their narrow loss in Perpignan with a more productive night out in Dublin 6W.

Leinster: R Kearney; H Keenan, J O'Brien, I Nacewa (capt), D Kearney; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; P Dooley, B Byrne, M Bent, I Nagle, S Fardy, Josh Murphy, Jordi Murphy, M Deegan.

Gloucester: D Halaifonua; C Sharples, H Trinder, B Twelvetrees, O Thorley; O Williams, W Heinz (capt); J Afoa, H Walker, F Balmain, E Slater, J Thrush, J Polledri, L Ludlow, F Clarke.

Verdict: Leinster.

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