The Leinster squad to face the Cardiff Blues in Sunday's Magners League at Cardiff City Stadium (KO: 4pm) has been named.
Shane Jennings and Eoin Reddan are included for the trip to the Welsh capital on Sunday after their involvement with the Ireland senior team in the victory over England last weekend. Jennings will lead the team on Sunday and is one of six Ireland internationals named amongst the forwards.
Experienced duo Stan Wright and CJ van der Linde join hooker Richardt Strauss, who has impressed of late in the British & Irish Cup alongside the likes of Stephen Keogh and Paul Ryan.
With Shaun Berne, Girvan Dempsey and Isa Nacewa in tow, Leinster can call on a panel which is mixed with youth and experience. Recent debutant Andrew Conway and Ireland Under-20 captain Rhys Ruddock are named in the provisional squad which is expected to be reduced on Friday lunchtime.
Leinster squad to face the Cardiff Blues...
BACKS: Shaun Berne, Andrew Conway, Girvan Dempsey, David Kearney, Simon Keogh, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden, Isa Nacewa, Paul O'Donohoe, Eoin O'Malley, Eoin Reddan
FORWARDS: Trevor Hogan, Bernard Jackman, Shane Jennings, Stephen Keogh, Ronan McCormack, Kevin McLaughlin, Malcolm O'Kelly, Mike Ross, Rhys Ruddock, Paul Ryan, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, CJ van der Linde, Stan Wright
Speaking ahead of the province's inaugural visit to Cardiff City Stadium this weekend, Leinster Manager Chris Whitaker said that the team will approach the game in a positive manner against an in-form Cardiff side...
"Cardiff are a strong force in Welsh rugby and even though they started the season slowly they have managed to pick up some impressive victories, not least their 30-7 win up in Firhill against Glasgow last time out. They are a club with big ambitions and they have strength, power and pace right across their team.
"It will be interesting to see which of their internationals will be available on the one hand, but we know that irrespective of who they select their team will be strong.
"They have a big forward pack. Xavier Rush is an important player for them as is Paul Tito, while their backline combinations are strong and experienced with the likes of Ben Blair and two exciting centres in Casey Laulala and Tom Shanklin. Supplemented by a number of up-and-coming players, they will certainly be a force to be reckoned with as they have found their form recently.
"It's good that we're in a position to welcome back some of our international players this week who are really keen to play. We're pleased, not just with the attitude of those players in training this week, but also with the likes of the Ireland Under-20 players who enjoyed such an impressive win against England, so some of them could also be involved on Sunday.
"The British & Irish Cup has enabled us to play some of our more experienced players such as Shaun Berne, Girvan Dempsey, Mal O'Kelly and Stan Wright as well as giving the younger players a taste of a higher level of rugby. Players will tell you that you can train and train, but it doesn't mean that you're going to be match sharp. Thankfully we have managed to give the majority of our squad a run recently, so we're in reasonably good shape.
"From a Leinster perspective it's encouraging that we have also been able to blood a few more players from the Academy this year and with the likes of Andy (Conway) making his debut in the Scarlets game, it gives encouragement to the rest of the players.
"From a long-term perspective it can only be good to give these young guys a bit of exposure.
"We will look to approach the game in a positive manner because if you sit back against opponents of Cardiff's calibre you invite pressure on yourself. In fixtures such as this, though, experience is vital."
Cardiff Blues face Newport Gwent Dragons in a huge European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final on Saturday, April 4 - and you can celebrate pre and post-match with Cardiff Blues and the Cardiff Blues Supporters' Club at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park!
Welsh Pro Rugby's main sponsor BT Sport will help make it a Welsh derby day to remember for thousands of rugby supporters at the big European quarter-final with the creation of a buzzing Family Village at Rodney Parade.
Cardiff Blues are hosting a special Open Evening this Wednesday night at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park to give prospective students and parents the chance to discover more about our new and exciting rugby education programme.
Our Cardiff Blues Rugby Camps return this Easter to give children right across our region the opportunity to participate in rugby during the holidays - and after selling out our last two camps you can book NOW to avoid any disappointment!
Supporters are being invited to get on their bike and gear up for an epic charity bike ride from Cardiff to Paris this June - with the last few places now available to raise vital funds for #StayStrongForOws
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Cardiff Blues will be celebrating St David's Day when the region faces Edinburgh Rugby at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 12.45pm) - with hundreds of children invited as part of our Regional Schools Day.
Fine footwear retailer The Brogue Trader - one of the official sponsors of Cardiff Blues - is celebrating after being recognised by the British Footwear Association at its annual Footwear Industry Awards.
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