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Aviva perfect stage to stake Munster’s claim

ONCE upon a time the IRFU would stage 80 minutes of rugby entertainment called ‘the final Irish trial.’ It provided the opportunity for club players, heretofore ignored by the then called ‘big five’ to make such an impression that their inclusion in an Irish international match could not be ignored.
This Saturday’s Leinster v Munster encounter is as close as you will get to the forementioned and the red corner will be particularly keen to make Joe Schmidt cast his eye southwards.
Apart from O’Connell, Murray, O’Mahony (P) and to some extent Earls and Zebo, Munster continue to be ignored and Rob Penney’s mention that his side would be facing the Six Nations champions was only a whisker from total accuracy.
Over the coming days he will decide on his starting line-up but it will not be very far from Jones; Earls, Downey, Laulala, Zebo; Keatley, Murray; Kilcoyne, Varley, Botha; O’Connell, Foley; O’Mahony, O’Donnell and Coughlan. (That, of course, is only a personal opinion!)
Leinster were first out of the press release blocks today after their training session in UCD as they prepared for the RaboDirect PRO12 showdown in the Aviva Stadium (7.00pm).
Coach Matt O’Connor once again reported no immediate injury concerns ahead of the visit of the Munstermen with Limerickman Sean Cronin taking a full part in training having shipped a knock in the victory over France a fortnight ago.
Jack McGrath continues to be monitored ahead of the game as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury but Luke Fitzgerald has trained all week and has reported no ill effects from his two try performance against Zebre.
Tadhg Furlong, who went over on his ankle in that same game, is awaiting the results of scans before a further update will be provided by the medical team.
It is a wonderful indication of the popularity of rugby on this island at present with the stadium, with a capacity of over 50,000+ completely sold out this week. It does not seem that long ago when Donnybrook seldom filled out for similar meetings between these two great rivals.
Roll on Saturday night!!

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