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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Leinster call on big guns for Sharks URC clash

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Johannesburg – Irish giants Leinster have brought out their big guns for their United Rugby Championship clash on Saturday with the Sharks and they will be led by Ireland legend Johnny Sexton, while in the supporting act is a host of international stars.

In fact, most of the Ireland side that beat the All Blacks in New Zealand in June will be turning out against the Durbanites, including wing Jordan Larmour, centres Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose, scrumhalf Luke McGrath, No 8 Jack Conan, hooker Dan Sheehan and loosehead prop Andrew Porter.

Funnily enough, there is also a Springbok in the Leinster pack in lock Jason Jenkins, who recently moved to them from Munster.

Leinster are unbeaten after three rounds of the URC, and Sharks coach Sean Everitt understands the enormity of the challenge ahead of his team.

“A win will be massive for us,” he said. “This squad we have over here will do duty for most of the URC as our Boks will soon be on their November tour, so this game will be a great challenge to see where we are as a group.

“We’ve got the two results that we wanted on tour so far — wins over Zebre and the Dragons — so a positive result for us in Dublin would be massive.

“We’re under no false illusions as to who we’re playing against, but at the same time teams have had wins against Leinster, including us.

“We had a win against Leinster in Durban, but if we are to beat them in Dublin we need to improve in the areas that let us down in our first two games on tour.

“Against Zebre, our attack won the game in the first half with some great rugby, but our defence let us down (in the second half), and against the Dragons, our defence improved but our attack wasn’t functional until the last quarter.

“We’re looking for an improved and consistent performance in all departments,” Everitt summed up.

With the vastly experienced Sexton directing traffic from flyhalf, Leinster have a versatile attack.

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“They’ve got a good kicking game and they force you to try and play in the wrong areas of the field,” Everitt said.

“They’ve got internationals in their team, their attack is dangerous and they enjoy keeping the ball in hand.

“To beat them, you have to stick to the task, wear them down, get in behind them and be on top of them.

“Any team that’s put under pressure can falter. They’re a difficult team to play against and they’re not the top team in Europe for nothing.”

Sharks team: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Boeta Chamerlain, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Dylan Richardson, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Thomas du Toit (c), 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.

Replacements: 16  Dan Jooste, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Cameron Wright, 22  Nevaldo Fleurs, 23 Marnus Potgieter.

Leinster team – 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Rob Russell, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Will Connors, 6 Ryan Baird, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.

Replacements: 16 John McKee, 17 Cian Healey, 18 Vakhtang Abdaladze, 19 James Ryan, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Cormac Foley, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Garry Ringrose.

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