Leinster remain the team to beat in the URC - and that's no Bull

© Dan Sheridan INPHO

THIS IS AS close as it gets to Boks-Office. The Aviva Stadium, the defending champions, the Currie Cup winners, Ireland’s dominant province meeting the South African equivalent (kick-off 5.15pm, RTE2).

Everyone, it seems, has a point to prove. For Johnny Sexton in particular, but also James Ryan, Hugo Keenan and Garry Ringrose, there’s nothing they’d like more than to show Warren Gatland he was wrong to ignore them last summer.

As for the Bulls, well they have their own cause. Last time they were in Europe, they were humiliated by Benetton, who – it appears – they grossly underestimated in last season’s Rainbow Cup final. They won’t make that mistake again.

Rated by far the strongest of the South African provinces, the Bulls have money behind them, and even though they don’t have their Springboks to call on this weekend, they do have the advantage of being in the middle of their season, whereas Leinster are just setting out on theirs.

What will comfort Leo Cullen, however, is the fact that he is only really missing his four Lions. Normally at this time of year, he’d be without at least 15 Irish internationals covered in cotton wool after a long summer tour.

And like the Bulls, they too have an emotional bruise that needs curing. La Rochelle bullied them in Europe last season, just as Saracens did the season before. Given the Bulls’ physical reputation, this is as good a place as any for Leinster’s pack to show they have toughened up.

© Manuel Blondeau La Rochelle bullied Leinster in Europe.

“They were the most dominant team in the Currie Cup by a significant margin,” said Cullen yesterday, “and I see they’ve added Bismarck Du Plessis since as well.

“In terms of the quality that they have, the tradition and heritage that all those teams have as well…I find it amazing, really, that we’re in the same competition now because they’re teams I watched in Super Rugby when I was younger.

“For us it’s a very, very tough challenge because we’re starting off and some guys are playing their first game of the season against a team that is battle-hardened, but it is what it is, we just need to get on with it now and try to prepare well.”

Preparations have largely focussed on Andrew Porter’s big switch from tighthead to loosehead with Cian Healy making a move in the opposite direction. While that’s something worth keeping an eye on, it’s likely Andy Farrell will be intrigued to see how Ryan Baird and James Ryan pair up against such hard-nosed opponents.

“A lot of unknowns,” was how Cullen referred to his team’s first steps into a new campaign, compared to the Bulls’ arrival into this competition on the back of a lengthy domestic programme.

“They’ll test us around set piece in particular, in and around the contact area they’re very aggressive both sides of the ball, a pretty direct midfield pairing in (Harold) Vorster and Lionel Mapoe and then some of the ball carrying backrowers that they have as well that we’re familiar with, the likes of (Marcell) Coetzee, but (Elrigh) Louw as well, even (Arno) Botha who was with Munster.

© James Crombie Ex-Ulster No8 Coetzee is with the Bulls.

“They’re very aggressive carriers, aggressive around the ruck and it is up to us to make sure that we’re nice and accurate at that area.”

Given the venue – the Aviva – given the fact 20,000 fans will be in attendance after the year we’ve just had, there is a sense that the occasion will provide an adrenaline rush to compensate for the fact that this is game number one of Leinster’s campaign.

Get exclusive

rugby analysis

Access members-only podcasts, analysis and insider reports from The42’s Murray Kinsella

Become a Member

Plus, Cullen wasn’t shy about pointing out that ‘everyone starts off from scratch at the start of the season’. That goes for the players named, irrespective of their past experience. Those selected for this evening’s game know they have to perform to stay in the team, Leinster’s depth highlighted by the fact that they selected Rhys Ruddock, Caelan Doris and Josh van der Flier in their back row with Max Deegan on the bench and Dan Leavy, Jack Conan, Scott Penny and Will Connors sitting in the stands.

That’s a reminder of their class. So never mind these new teams arriving from south of the equator into this competition, Leinster remain the team to beat in it. And that’s no Bull.

Leinster

15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Rory O’Loughlin, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ciaran Frawley, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 James Ryan, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter

Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Cian Healy, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Jamie Osborne

Bulls

15 David Kriel, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5, Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gerhard Steenkamp

Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Jacques du Plessis, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Stedman Gans

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

DJ trio Swedish House Mafia reunite with new music, tour

This photo provided by Swedish House Mafia shows Axwell, from left, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso of Swedish House Mafia as they pose for a self portrait on Thursday, Oct. ... Read more »

Arson suspect faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted in Waikiki surfboard rack fire

Oct. 22—A 48-year-old man charged with arson in connection with Sunday's fire that destroyed about 500 surfboards in Waikiki made his initial appearance at Honolulu District Court this morning. Glenn ... Read more »

Illegal seizure claimed by suspect in Harry's Hideaway shooting

Oct. 22—LIMA — Items obtained from a vehicle police say was used in a February shooting in the parking lot of a Lima bar were obtained illegally, the attorney for ... Read more »

New bill would create Howard County Police Accountability Board, establish independent department oversight

Oct. 22—Howard County Executive Calvin Ball on Thursday pre-filed legislation that would create a Police Accountability Board, which would receive complaints about police misconduct from the public and work with ... Read more »

Prices of Unilever's most popular brands have jumped - and the worst is yet to come

The maker of a host of well known consumer brands has revealed a big lift in prices and warned of worse to come as it battles “unprecedented cost inflation” around ... Read more »

Injuries behind Wood's AFL retirement call

Western Bulldogs premiership captain Easton Wood says a rapid decline in his physical capabilities and fear of letting down the AFL club were the driving factors behind his surprise retirement. © ... Read more »

Alec Baldwin fires prop gun, killing cinematographer, authorities say

By Bhargav Acharya © Reuters/Mike Blake FILE PHOTO: 69th Primetime Emmy Awards – Arrivals – Los Angeles (Reuters) -Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on a movie set in ... Read more »

China hounds Taiwan with 'greyzone' war plane incursions

Chinese fighter jets crowding Taiwan’s radar screens are Beijing’s latest tool to ramp up pressure on the democratic island, sparking fears that one mistake could suddenly turn a festering cold ... Read more »

Alec Baldwin fired prop gun which killed cinematographer on Rust set, police say

© John Minchillo A prop firearm discharged by veteran actor Alec Baldwin, who is starring and producing a Western movie, killed his director of photography and injured the director (John ... Read more »

US President Joe Biden upbeat on spending deal, but new corporate taxes unlikely

© New York Times US President Joe Biden upbeat on spending deal, but new corporate taxes unlikely President Joe Biden on October 21 said he is confident about getting his ... Read more »

October 1-20 cumulative rainfall 39% more than normal: IMD

© IANS Rain. New Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) Well beyond the conventional end of the southwest monsoon time that ends on September 30, it continued to rain almost throughout the ... Read more »

UGC Recruitment 2021: Apply for Academic Consultant post at ugc.ac.in, salary up to Rs 80,000, details here

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi has issued notification for the recruitment of Academic Consultant posts. It may be noted that this ... Read more »

ICC Men's T20 World Cup: List of Hat-Tricks in the Marquee Tournament So Far

© Provided by News18 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup: List of Hat-Tricks in the Marquee Tournament So Far Claiming a hat-trick in any format of cricket isn’t easy for any ... Read more »

T20 World Cup: Playing every game as if it's my last, says England pacer David Willey

David Willey still has the painful memories of being left out from the victorious 2019 World Cup squad. He was omitted from the England squad n the eve of the ... Read more »

Could Eden Hazard leave Real Madrid by end of season? Former defender Fernando Sanz explains why it could happen

867 days. 37 matches. 4 goals and 8 assists. These numbers depict the painful tale of Eden Hazard’s stint with Real Madrid so far; one laced with injuries and multiple ... Read more »

Lakhimpur Kheri violence: BKU suspends Yogendra Yadav for visiting deceased BJP worker's kin

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav has been suspended from the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) for a month over his visit to the residence ... Read more »

J&K: 'Potential Tragedy' Averted as Army Defuses IED Fitted in Tree in Poonch District

© Provided by News18 J&K: ‘Potential Tragedy’ Averted as Army Defuses IED Fitted in Tree in Poonch District During a massive search operation against holed-up terrorists in the dense forests ... Read more »

Nykaa may launch its IPO next week to raise a little over ₹5,000 crore

© BI India Nykaa may launch its IPO next week to raise a little over ₹5,000 crore The anchor placement of up to ₹2,340 crore will open up a day ... Read more »

Mamata promises Goa ‘Navi Sakal' in 2022 as Trinamool goes all-out for poll debut in state

© Provided by The Print Kolkata/Mumbai: The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which swept to power in Bengal for a third consecutive term this summer, has plans to go national. And ... Read more »

Man wanted after train derailed south of Sydney

A manhunt is on for a fugitive who allegedly left a car on train tracks south of Sydney causing a train to derail. Four people were hospitalised after the train ... Read more »

Eddie Obeid bail bid fails, heads to jail

Former NSW Labor minister Eddie Obeid has failed to secure bail while awaiting an appeal after being given a jail sentence over a rigged tender for a coal exploration licence.  ... Read more »

Australia has delivered just 8% of Covid vaccinations promised to developing nations

Just 8% of the 60m Covid-19 vaccinations the Australian government pledged to developing countries in the region have been delivered. © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Leon Lord/AFP/Getty Images Australia ... Read more »

‘The plan is to drink all day': sunny Melbourne celebrates its freedom day. First stop – brunch!

For the first time in a long time, there are plenty of people out on Melbourne streets as the sun rises over the city. © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: ... Read more »

Google to reduce Play Store fee for subscription services to 15% from Jan 1

© Provided by Business Today Google to reduce Play Store fee for subscription services to 15% from Jan 1  Google announced on Thursday that it will reduce service fee for ... Read more »

Human Rights Watch asks for protecting Bangladesh Hindus, but calls for law enforcement 'restraint'

© IANS Human Rights Watch asks for protecting Bangladesh Hindus, but calls for law enforcement ‘restraint’ New York, Oct 22 (IANS) While asking Bangladesh authorities to protect Hindus, the international ... Read more »

Apple iPhone SE 3 may feature LCD in an iPhone XR-like body, launch expected next year

Apple just dropped four new iPhone models at its September event. These are Apple’s flagship iPhones that, although have the best features, cost a bomb. On the other hand, Apple ... Read more »

Fuel prices today: Petrol inches closer to Rs 107 per litre in Delhi; check latest rates here

© Provided by Business Today Fuel prices today: Petrol inches closer to Rs 107 per litre in Delhi; check latest rates here Fuel prices have shot up for the third ... Read more »

D'Ernest Johnson runs for 146 yards and a TD as Browns down Broncos 17-14

© Provided by NBC Sports D’Ernest Johnson rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown and Case Keenum threw for 199 yards and a score as the depleted Cleveland Browns managed ... Read more »

Blizzy, Zayac form Kyrgyzstani Dota 2 roster to compete in next DPC season

The time for forming new Dota 2 teams is upon us, as hundreds of players around the world without a dedicated sponsor begin to communicate and squad up with others ... Read more »

Case Keenum's fourth-down run exemplifies tough Browns win over Broncos

It wasn’t a pretty Thursday night game, but the Cleveland Browns aren’t in a position to turn down wins.  In fact, it might fit under the cliche of a character-building ... Read more »

Arkansas State vs. Louisiana: How to watch, schedule, live stream info, game time, TV channel

© Provided by CBS Sports Sep 8, 2018; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Arkansas State Red Wolves quarterback Justice Hansen (15) drops back to pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the ... Read more »

Chris Taylor Slams 3 Homers in NLCS Game 5 Against Braves

© Provided by Sports Illustrated Thursday marks his first three-homer game in his career, and he joins Kiké Hernández as the only Dodgers ever with a three-homer postseason game. View ... Read more »

6 LGUs in Metro Manila roll out Covid-19 jabs for minors

AT least six local government units (LGUs) under the National Capital Region (NCR) rolled out their vaccines against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) for children aged 12 to 17 on ... Read more »

Bongbong Marcos an 'idea thief', says Isko Moreno camp

A top official of Aksyon Demokratiko minced no words in calling out former senator and presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for his supposed “idea theft” from the party’s standard ... Read more »

Sara Ali Khan in Retrofête's black dress worth Rs 48K shows how to sparkle like a fashion queen; Yay or Nay?

Parties aren’t dead, maybe you’ve fallen out of the spirit. You’re not at fault, we’re back with another pick-me-up outfit that can be your reference even on Christmas eve. Dresses ... Read more »

International tourists could return to Langkawi by December, says minister

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Langkawi was also chosen under the tourism green bubble last month for the reopening of domestic tourism activities. (Bernama pic) KUCHING: The tourism ministry ... Read more »

Isu Pulau Batu Puteh: Dr Mahathir tidak jawab persoalan sebenar

© Provided by Sinar Harian JOHOR BAHRU – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tidak menjawab persoalan sebenar punca kerajaan Pakatan Harapan (PH) pimpinan beliau pada 2018 tidak meneruskan permohonan semakan ke ... Read more »

Alec Baldwin fires gun on movie set, killing cinematographer, authorities say

© Reuters/Mike Blake FILE PHOTO: 69th Primetime Emmy Awards – Arrivals – Los Angeles (Reuters) – Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on a movie set in New Mexico ... Read more »

Covid-19: 96 deaths, including 21 BID cases yesterday

© Provided by New Straits Times KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia logged 96 Covid-19 deaths as of 11.59pm yesterday. Based on data shared on the Health Ministry’s CovidNow site, the figure includes ... Read more »

'I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans' - Haiti gang behind kidnap demand ransom in video

A Haitian gang leader has threatened to kill 17 kidnapped American and Canadian missionaries if he is not given millions in ransom money. © Imagebridge The Christian Aid Ministries said ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic