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Preview: Ospreys v Leinster

11th October 2013 11:48

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Gordon D Arcy for Leinster

Big clash: Ospreys v Leinster

Leinster have named Jimmy Gopperth at fly-half as they begin their Heineken Cup campaign on the road against the Ospreys in Swansea on Saturday.

Gopperth, who plays his first European game for the province, is joined by Ireland international scrum-half Isaac Boss in the half-back positions.

It's a case of youth and experience at centre where Leinster's most capped player Gordon D'Arcy (who is set to make his 226th appearance) will partner European debutant Brendan Macken, who starts at thirteen in what will also be the 22-year-old's fifth appearance of the season.

Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden will be joined in a strong back three by Rob Kearney, who makes his 135th outing in Leinster colours.

The pack is unchanged from the one that started last weekend with Jamie Heaslip once more leading the team and he will be flanked in the back-row once more by Kevin McLaughlin and Sean O'Brien. Cian Healy will once more partner fellow Ireland front-rowers Sean Cronin and Mike Ross, with Devin Toner locking down alongside Mike McCarthy.

Incidentally, Ireland duo McLaughlin and McFadden will both be making their 99 career appearances for their home province in Swansea.

Meanwhile, the Ospreys have named Ben John on the right wing while blindside flanker Ryan Jones returns to the side in place of Canadian duo Jeff Hassler and Tyler Ardron.

Dan Biggar and Tito Tebaldi continue in the half-backs as do Ashley Beck and Andrew Bishop at centre while there are four British and Irish Lions tourists named in their pack.

"It's been a good preparation week for us and we're all really looking forward to Saturday as a group," said head coach Steve Tandy.

"It's an exciting time for anybody involved with rugby, as a player, coach or supporter, as the Heineken Cup always brings with it great contests, excitement and drama, and we are itching to get started.

"We know what Leinster will bring to us as familiar foes from the PRO12 but you can't underestimate what they have achieved in Europe over the last five years. They've got a fantastic record and have quality right through the squad, including five 2013 Lions. It really doesn't get much tougher."

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Ben John, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ryan Jones, 5 James King, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Tyler Ardron, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Jeff Hassler.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip (capt), 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Luke Fitzgerald.

Date: Saturday, October 12
Kick-off: 18:00 BST
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Roger Whitfield (England), Paul Dix (England)
Television match official: Geoff Warren (England)
Timekeeper: David Hudson (England)

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PosTeamPPts
1Leinster622
2Northampton617
3Castres69
4Ospreys65