Having won an opening Heineken Cup pool match for only the third time in the club’s history, Glasgow Warriors will this Sunday seek to become the first side in more than two years to emerge victorious from a European game on Leinster soil when they face the European champions at the RDS (kick-off 12.45pm, live on Sky Sports).
Following a Heineken Cup defeat to London Irish on 9 October 2009, Leinster went 28 home matches unbeaten, a run that only came to an end when the Warriors claimed a sensational 23-19 success in the RaboDirect PRO12 two months ago.
Glasgow head coach Sean Lineen acknowledges that forcing a similar result in Sunday’s rematch will take a “performance of the very highest standard from every single player”, but has called on his men to take confidence from the five-match winning run they carry into the fixture.
“It was vitally important that we got off to a positive start in the pool against Bath last weekend, and although it took us right until the last minute, we claimed what was a really encouraging result.” said Lineen. “Beating a quality English side, and winning the four games before that one, has given the players a level of belief whereby they can travel to a place like Leinster without any fear.
“The task is a huge one – go to the home of the reigning Heineken Cup holders and come away with the sort of result that hardly any visiting team has managed in the past couple of years. But we’ve already shown there this season that we have it in us, and we know that this is an opportunity as well as a massive challenge.
“Both teams will be a fair bit different personnel-wise to the RaboDirect PRO12 game in September, so I expect a different sort of dynamic to the match. Leinster will throw plenty at us, and the players will need to show the same bravery and composure in adversity as was the case against Bath.”
Lineen has largely kept faith with the men who delivered a third successive home Heineken Cup success against English opposition.
Two of the three changes to the match-23 are injury-enforced, Peter Murchie replacing Rob Dewey (shoulder) at outside centre, and Finlay Gillies coming onto the bench to cover for Dougie Hall, who is suffering from a dead leg. Loose-head prop Jon Welsh, meanwhile, makes a welcome return as a substitute, having recovered from the ankle injury he sustained on the first night of the RaboDirect PRO12 season away to Ulster.
Lineen commented: “It’s great to have Jon back in the mix. He’s a great asset all over the park, and he, Ryan Grant and Gordon Reid are going to be competing hard for that number 1 jersey over the coming months.
“I was really happy with the application and courage under fire that the team showed against Bath, and although we didn’t create as many scoring opportunities as we’d like, we took our chances well when they came about. We go into the Leinster match under no illusions about what lies ahead, but with confidence in ourselves and the game we want to play.”
New signing David Lemi has now arrived in Glasgow, but will not be involved in Sunday’s fixture.
Glasgow starting XV:
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Peter Murchie
12 Graeme Morrison
11 Colin Shaw
10 Duncan Weir
9 Chris Cusiter
1 Ryan Grant
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Mike Cusack
4 Richie Gray
5 Al Kellock (Captain)
6 Rob Harley
7 John Barclay
8 Ryan Wilson
16 Finlay Gillies
17 Jon Welsh
18 Ed Kalman
19 Tom Ryder
20 Henry Pyrgos
21 Chris Fusaro
22 Troy Nathan
23 Federico Aramburu
Not considered for selection due to injury: Johnnie Beattie (back), Rob Dewey (shoulder), Alex Dunbar (face), Dougie Hall (dead leg), Ruaridh Jackson (hamstring), Fergus Thomson (shoulder), DTH van der Merwe (shoulder).
Involved in British and Irish Cup: Calum Forrester, Moray Low, Gordon Reid (Ayr); Scott Wight (Melrose).