Preview: Leinster v Treviso

Date published: February 8 2012

Leinster have named a team mixed with youth and experience to face Benetton Treviso in Thursday's PRO12 clash at the RDS.

Leinster have named a team mixed with youth and experience to face Benetton Treviso in Thursday's RaboDirect PRO12 clash at the RDS.

Top-of-the-table Leinster are nine points clear of second-placed Ospreys and fourteen points clear of the fifth-placed Scarlets, so have a good cushion to keep their campaign for the finals on track.

Dubliner Colm O'Shea will make his debut for the province and the 21-year-old – who has featured in four British & Irish Cup games so far this season – will form a midfield partnership with Brendan Macken.

Isaac Boss links up with Ian Madigan at half-back, with Fionn Carr forming a pacey back three alongside Darren Hudson and Isa Nacewa.

Kevin McLaughlin leads the team after recovering from injury and is named in a back-row alongside fellow Ireland international Shane Jennings as well as Leo Auva'a.

Heinke van der Merwe makes his 49th appearance for the province and the South African is joined by Richardt Strauss and Nathan White in the front row.

Meanwhile, Treviso coach Franco Smith has been forced to make changes to his starting XV for the Round 14 hit-out.

The team landed in Dublin with a line-up that suffers from the absence of many players who are with Italy in Saturday's Six Nations match against England at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Gonzalo Garcia is back on the bench after having recovered from a shoulder surgery. Benjamin De Jager also returns on the pitch after having recovered from the chest injury suffered in November in the home match against the Irish side.

Treviso's half-backs are Alberto Di Bernardo and Alberto Chillon – the Petrarca Padova's scrum-half who already played for Benetton Treviso at the beginning of this season.

Hooker Enrico Ceccato, and props Matteo Muccignat and Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet make up the front row.

Valerio Bernabò captains the side and Francesco Minto (back on the pitch after having been disqualified in December) are in at lock, while Gonzalo Padrò, Benjamin Vermaak and Marco Filippucci are playing in the back row.

Form: Leinster, who top the RaboDirect PRO12 standings, have reeled off ten successive victories in all competitions and are unbeaten in their last 16 matches since their 19-23 reversal at home to Glasgow on 17 September. Leinster's only previous defeat to an Italian side in PRO12 play was 13-29 in Treviso on 18 September 2010. Benetton Treviso have won just one of their last six encounters in all competitions: 37-14 at home to Aironi on New Year's Eve. Treviso have already won in Ireland twice this season, beating Ulster 23-12 at Ravenhill and Connacht 15-13 at the Sportsground. The two sides have met on five previous occasions in all tournaments with the Italians successful just once.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Darren Hudson, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Colm O'Shea, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Leo Auva'a, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin (c), 5 Devin Toner, 4 Damian Browne, 3 Nathan White, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Andrew Boyle.

Treviso: 15 Ludovico Nitoglia, 14 Benjamin De Jager, 13 Ezio Galon, 12 Andrea Pratichetti, 11 Brendan Williams, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Marco Filippucci, 7 Benjamin Vermaak, 6 Gonzalo Padrò, 5 Valerio Bernabò (c), 4 Francesco Minto, 3 Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, 2 Enrico Ceccato, 1 Matteo Muccignat
Replacements: 16 Diego Vidal, 17 Carlo Fazzari, 18 Pedro Di Santo, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Enrico Pavanello, 21 Simon Picone, 22 Gonzalo Garcia, 23 Tommaso Iannone.

Date: Thursday , February 9
Venue: RDS
Kick-off: 19:05 GMT
Referee: Leighton Hodges