Wednesday 13 December 2017

'The Leinster Way' is to win

Cullen looks to youth and experience for vital points

Isa Nacewa
Isa Nacewa

It is a little early to be looking to Garry Ringrose and Cian Kelleher to solve the problems of the world.

Yet, these two names have been on the lips of Leinster supporters for quite a while.

Outside centre Ringrose, 20, will make his debut on the right wing, while Kelleher, 21, will wait to be summoned from the wood to add to the four minutes he earned against Edinburgh in May.

It is just another example of the drip-feed of age grade sensations, like lock Ross Molony and opensides Dan Leavy and Josh van der Flier to which Leo Cullen has turned in a time of need.

The reality is the responsibility to keep Leinster on the coat-tails of the leaders in the PRO12 will fall to men like Isa Nacewa, captain in the absence of the injured Kevin McLaughlin.

Where there is the uncertainty over youth, it is covered by the experience of Ireland internationals Fergus McFadden, Noel Reid, Mike McCarthy, Dominic Ryan and Jack Conan.

This is the toe-in-the-water environment in which Conan can show he has the tools to carry Leinster forward.

Of course, Cullen will have points foremost in his mind and he will take them anyway he can get them.

The luxury of winning in style is not one he may be able to afford for now, although he has already spoken of his determination to reintroduce 'The Leinster Way.'

Second row Molony will make his first start - he has been used twice from the bench - as a mobile, athletic forward with real game intelligence beside the physical fundamentals brought by McCarthy.

The half-backs Luke McGrath and Cathal Marsh will be charged with bringing their three-quarter line into play.

This will be partly alleviated by the sweet distribution of Noel Reid and the gain-line guarantee of Ben Te'o.

Cardiff might just offer more than the token resistance they have been known for in Dublin.

Coach Danny Wilson makes three changes from the 11-try rout of pitiful Zebre with hooker Kristian Dacey the most notable.

"Leinster get a fantastic home crowd, they are well supported and they get momentum from the backing they enjoy so it should be a great atmosphere," said Wilson.

"Whichever way you look at it we go there as underdogs. But, what a great place it would be to go and get a win."

Leinster: I Nacewa (capt); G Ringrose, B Te'o, N Reid, F McFadden; C Marsh, L McGrath; M Bent, A Dundon, J Hagan, R Molony, M McCarthy, D Ryan, J van der Flier, J Conan.

Cardiff: D Fish; A Summerhill, T Isaacs, G Evans, O Jenkins; R Patchell, T Knoyle; S Hobbs, K Dacey, C Mitchell, J Hoeata, J Down, J Turnbull, J Navidi (capt), M Vosawai.

Verdict: Leinster.

PRO12: Leinster v Cardiff, The RDS, Today SKY SP 4 (KO 5.15)

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