Rob Kearney will captain Leinster on his return to first-team action when they welcome Ulster to the RDS tomorrow evening (kick-off 5.15pm).
It is the first meeting between the two provinces this season, and both are opting for a second-string side, ahead of crucial Champions Cup fixtures scheduled for next weekend.
Leinster’s stand-in skipper believes they can’t read too much into team selections, and that Leinster can only play who is put in front of them.
“We can’t control what sort of squad they send down, I’m sure they have got to manage and rotate a few of their players too.” Kearney told reporters.
“But, I suppose given what happened last week, this week was very much about ourselves, trying to get a full weeks preparation and making sure we can do everything we can to make sure that when game time comes we’re prepared as best as we could throughout the week.”
Following on from a tumultuous campaign last season, Ulster started poorly again this year, only to turn the tied a rediscover some form, which saw them finish 2018 on somewhat of a high note, despite defeat away to Connacht last week.
Kearney puts Ulster improving fortunes down Jared Payne and the work he has done with Ulster’s defence having worked alongside incoming Irish head coach, Andy Farrell.
“I think they’ve improved defensively a lot. Jared obviously has worked a little over the last few months with Andy Farrell so they’ll be quite similar in terms of how they defend. A bit like Munster did last weekend.
“So, hopefully playing against it last week makes it more understanding for us and how we want to attack, but we just stick to the basics, we want to try to control the ball as best as we can. Build those phases.”
Kearney’s return adds some much-needed experience to Leinster’s line-up tomorrow and the veteran fullback is looking forward to his return, and a chance to play alongside some of Leinster’s up and coming talent.
“It’s great to be back out here, full-house, and we’ll try to play some exciting rugby.
“I’m feeling good, I got a few sessions under my belt last week, was back on the field Thursday and I probably needed a few days under my belt training just to get back up and running so very excited to get back tomorrow alongside some of these young guns.”