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It could be Luke-y thirteen for Fitzy

Where once Irish rugby was looking down the barrel when it came to finding Brian O'Driscoll's heir at outside centre, Luke Fitzgerald could just make it a three-horse race for the Six Nations.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has already seen what Jared Payne can start to bring there.

Robbie Henshaw will be thrown in at the deep end against the master manipulators Australia this afternoon.

Then Fitzgerald will take his first step there in faraway Italy tomorrow.

The 2009 British & Irish Lion has been tested to the limit psychologically as injuries have destroyed his quest for improvement.

Previously, he has talked about his will to transition from wing to centre.

Here, the first real chance to show what he can do comes against Treviso.

He has the physical edge, the defensive intelligence, the skills set to make it happen.

The greatest concern comes over whether his body can hold up to the rigours of the game.


Fitzgerald has looked super-sharp in his latest comeback with two 80-minute outings against Castres in the Champions Cup and Edinburgh in the PRO12.

Fitzgerald is not a lone soldier in trying to catch the eye of Schmidt.

Dave Kearney made the career-defining move from interpro to front-line international last season on the basis of his incredible work rate and attention to the basics of wing play.

The knee injury that took him away from the game could not have come at a worse time.

He did miss out on the PRO12 final, and Ireland's two Tests in Argentina as well as the November series.

But he will have lost little ground once he can recapture his form.

The brownie points are piled high in his favour.

Treviso: J Hayward; A Pratichetti, E Bacchin, S Christie, L Nitoglia; J Carlisle, A Lucchese; M Zanusso, D Giazzon, R Harden, T Vallejos-Cinalli, C van Zyl, M Barbini, D Budd, M Laumanu.

Leinster: Z Kirchner; D Kearney, L Fitzgerald, N Reid, D Fanning; J Gopperth, L McGrath; M Bent, R Strauss, T Furlong, K Douglas, T Denton, K McLaughlin (capt), J Murphy, J Conan.

Verdict: Leinster