News emerged from the Leinster camp earlier in the week that Irish winger Luke Fitzgerald will finally return for the Boys in Blue against Castres in this weekend’s European Champions Cup enounter.
Fitzgerald has been out of action since last March’s 22-18 Pro 12 win over Munster at the Aviva Stadium. His return will be welcomed by Leinster and Irish fans alike .
Fitzgerald is expected to return to the left wing with last weekend’s tryscoring hero Darragh Fanning being moved out to the right. Zane Kirchner completes the back three, with the South African expected to start at fifteen. Isaac Boss starts at scrum-half instead of Eoin Reddan while Jimmy Gopperth will slot in at fly half. Outside Gopperth, Madigan and D’Arcy make up the centre positions. Noel Reid, who started the game against Wasps, now has to content himself with a place on the bench.
Leinster’s front row remains unchanged but Kane Douglas has replaced Mike McCarthy as Devin Toner’s partner in the second row. In the backrow Ruddock and Ryan line out alongside captain James Heaslip, who will be making his 191st appearance for the Boys in Blue on Sunday. Sadly for Matt O’Connor, Mike Ross and Rob Kearny are set to miss out on Sunday’s match in France, having failed to recover from injuries incurred during last weekend’s hard fought victory over Wasps at the RDS.
Leinster face off against a Castres side in serious trouble. This year has seen Castres struggling both at home and abroad. Crowned Top 14 champions only two years ago, the French side have been remarkably poor this season. Castres have lost six of their opening nine games in the Top 14 and last weekend’s European Champions Cup defeat to Quins did little to suggest matters would improve soon. Serge Milhas’s men have looked bereft of ideas this season and Matt O’Connor will be forgiven for wanting a bonus point in the upcoming match.
Rory Kockott at scrum half has been influential in Castres’ three wins this season but one player does not a team make. Should Leinster find a way to keep Kockott quiet and nullify Castres’ rolling maul, it could be a very long afternoon indeed for the French side.
Leinster boast a 3-1 record against Castres and O’Connor will be confident of making it 4-1. Castres make be looking to bounce back from their crushing defeat against Quins but it’s difficult to see anything other than a Leinster win.
If O’Connor wants to stake a claim for Europe this season, back to back wins are a must.
Leinster Line Out as Follows:
Kirchner, Fanning, D’Arcy, Madigan, Fitzgerald, Gopperth, Boss, J McGrath, Cronin, Bent, Toner, Douglas, Ruddock, Ryan, Heaslip (capt)
Conor Heffernan, Pundit Arena.