Jackman: Warriors a concern
Evening Herald columnist Bernard Jackman will take the captain's armband as Leinster strive to move clear of the Magners League pack against Glasgow Warriors at the RDS tonight.
There is a traffic jam at the head of the table where the top four, filled out by Edinburgh, the Ospreys and Glasgow, in that order, are separated by a single point, with Munster lurking menacingly in fifth.
Leinster have at least one game in hand on all those around them and Jackman is keen to ensure they make their move this evening.
"Glasgow are a side who always put it up to you. Scottish sides sometimes don't get the respect that they deserve," he said.
"Yet, themselves and Edinburgh are right up on the top end of the Magners League table.
"The Warriors are a tough team to beat and they drew in Connacht, which was no mean feat because we know how hard it can be to go down to the Sportsground and win.
"They could have even won that game.
"They have a very good kicking game, but we have done a lot of scouting on them recently.
"They, like ourselves, will be missing a few players with Saturday's international game coming up, but they have strong quality backs and a physical pack of forwards who can dominate you if you don't bring your 'A' game."
Malcolm O'Kelly will make his 180th appearance for the province on the same night that centre Eoin O'Malley and openside Paul Ryan will make their home debuts.
Meanwhile, Ian Dowling and Niall Ronan make their way back from injury in a relatively strong Munster side, who face the Scarlets in tonight's Magners League clash at Musgrave Park (Live Setanta Sports 1, 7.35pm).
Coach Tony McGahan makes eight changes in total from the side that disappointed against the Dragons last time, one of those positional, with Paul Warwick stepping into the out-half berth and Scott Deasy getting to wear the number 15 jersey.
Age-grade international Deasy is getting up to the pace and ferocity of professional rugby. Although not the biggest, he has a level of skill not common to homegrown Munster backs.
Flanker Billy Holland is another starting to make a more regular impression in a pack captained by Mick O'Driscoll.
The Scarlets welcome back Welsh Six Nations squad members Ken Owens and centre Jonathan Davies, who are sure to bring extra power to the argument.
Coach Nigel Davies has had to plan without a host of first team players, including Morgan Stoddart, Mark Jones, Rob Higgitt, Simon Easterby and Dafydd Jones.
However, they do have Wallaby number eight David Lyons, who has been their tower of strength this season.
Leinster: G Dempsey; Simon Keogh, E O'Malley, F McFadden, I Nacewa; S Berne, P O'Donohoe; CJ van der Linde, B Jackman (capt), M Ross, D Toner, M O'Kelly, K McLaughlin, P Ryan, Stephen Keogh.
Glasgow: B Stortoni; H O'Hare, P Murchie, P Horne, DTH van der Merwe; R Jackson, M McMillan (capt), J Welsh, D Hall, E Kalman, T Barker, D Turner, J Eddie, C Forrester, R Vernon.
Munster: S Deasy; D Howlett, T Gleeson, J de Villiers, I Dowling; P Warwick, P Stringer; M Horan, D Varley, J Brugnaut, M O'Driscoll (capt), B Holland, N Williams, N Ronan, J Coughlan.
Scarlets: D Newton; J Ajuwa, R King, J Davies, A Fenby; R Priestland, T Knoyle; I Thomas, K Owens, D Manu, L Reed, D Day, J Turnbull, R Pugh, D Lyons (capt).