The prospects of the Southern Kings earning their first Pro 14 league points improved when Leinster named a severely depleted 28-man squad for their trip to Port Elizabeth.
Saturday’s clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is the Kings’ first home game and they are yearning to get on the winning track after opening defeats against the Scarlets and Connacht. The Dublin-based side have been hit by a number of injuries, and key players are also unavailable for their matches against the Kings and Cheetahs.
Fullback Rob Kearney (hamstring) and backrow Dan Leavy (ankle), were injured in the weekend’s win over the Cardiff Blues, and have been ruled out of the South African safari.
In another blow, the locks who started against Cardiff, Devin Toner and Scott Fardy, are also unavailable, because both their wives are expecting a first child in the next few weeks.
The absence of Toner, who made his 200th appearance for Leinster at the weekend, and Australian international Fardy, is compounded by the fact that another second rower, Ian Nagle, has also been sidelined.
Leinster coach Leo Cullen will be hoping James Ryan, Mick Kearney and Ross Molony can fulfil the lock duties between them over the two games, al- though Rhys Ruddock has played there in the past.
Joey Carbery (calf), Noel Reid (hand) and Fergus McFadden (calf) bolster the resources in
the backline, while prop Peter Dooley (bicep) and Ireland international flanker Jordi Mur- phy (knee) were fit enough to travel to South Africa yesterday.
Leinster assistant coach John Fogarty said: “We’re the first club to go over to South Africa, so I guess we are preparing for what they have shown.
“When we get there how they
approach it we’ll see. Sometimes you play teams at home and you play them away and it’s night and day. We’re preparing for what’s in front of us.”
Fogarty had some sympathy for the Kings and Cheetahs who started their campaign with away matches in Europe.
“They have had huge chal- lenges. Coming into this compe- tition, you can understand where they are coming from and how they have to make adjust- ments.
“I think when they get home, it will feel a lot better. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for them. “These two games are bloody important – they sit in a really important place so that when we come home we can readjust. “There will be a group here that will be likely to be involved when we come home, we need to
build cohesion and get it right. “We’re not overly happy with how we performed against Cardiff. It worked out in the end with some nice bits, but we put ourselves under pressure and
then started to force things.” The Kings have injury problems of their own to consider
after props Rossouw de Klerk and Entienne Swanepoel were ruled out of Saturday’s clash.
Swanepoel had been knocked unconscious in the Connacht game, the medical staff said.
The Leinster squad:
Backs: Adam Byrne, Ross Byrne, Joey Carbery, Barry Daly, Dave Kearney, Jamison Gibson-Park, Jordan Larmour, Cathal Marsh, Rory O’Loughlin, Fergus McFadden, Luke McGrath, Isa Nacewa (capt), Noel Reid.
Forwards: Michael Bent, Ed Byrne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Max Deegan, Peter Dooley, Cian Healy, Mick Kearney, Ross Molony, Jordi Murphy, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, James Tracy, Josh van der Flier.