Munster v Leinster preview
Published Friday, May 1, 2009, 4:17 PM
Updated Thursday, June 27, 2013, 10:05 PM
Munster will have to stop Brian O'Driscoll if they are to beat Leinster on Saturday.
Photo by PA Wire/Press Association Images
The biggest game so far in this year's Heineken Cup sees Munster take on Leinster in Saturday's semi-final.
Croke Park has been chosen as the neutral venue and Munster have been tipped as favorites - they are the cup holders after all.
With a host of Grand Slam winners and players that made the British & Irish Lions squad, it promises to be an engaging affair that not many rugby fans will want to miss.
Munster have once again selected Keith Earls and Lifeimi Mafi as their centre pairing and they could be the difference if they play like they did in the whitewash of Ospreys in the quarter-finals.
There were doubts hanging over Ian Dowling, but he has been named in Tony McGahan's starting XV in a backline that also includes the in-form Paul Warwick.
Missing for them though is scrum-half Tomas O'Leary, who fractured his ankle in last week's Magners League game against Llanelli Scarlets. Peter Stringer has taken over the number nine jersey.
Leinster have a lot to prove going into this match. Not only do they need to show that they have the ability to reach the final of this competition, but they also have to put in a convincing performance against their provincial rivals.
When the teams met in the Magners League recently, it was Munster that bossed the encounter and did what they have done for the past few years and shook the confidence right out of Leinster's Felipe Contepomi.
If Michael Cheika's side are to control this game, then Contepomi needs to play well. He certainly has the talent to shine on such an occasion, but his temperament and place kicking will be under the spotlight and he simply needs to have a good day.
Robert Kearney is unavailable through illness, so Isa Nacewa fills in at full-back with Shane Horgan occupying the right wing. Leinster are also without CJ Van Der Linde, who has failed to shake off a foot injury.
Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Lifeimi Mafi, Ian Dowling; Peter Stringer, Ronan O'Gara; Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes; Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell; Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy.
Replacements: Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Mick O'Driscoll, Niall Ronan, Mike Prendergast, Barry Murphy, Denis Hurley.
Leinster: Isa Nacewa; Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Felipe Contepomi, Chris Whitaker; Cian Healy, Bernard Jackman, Stan Wright; Leo Cullen, Malcolm O'Kelly; Rocky Elsom, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: John Fogarty, Ronan McCormack, Devin Toner, Sean O'Brien, Simon Keogh, Jonathan Sexton, Girvan Dempsey.