Lions all set for European showpiece

A total of six members of the 2009 Lions squad will be involved in the climax of the European club season this Saturday. [more]

Lions all set for European showpiece

A total of six members of the 2009 Lions squad will be involved in the climax of the European club season this Saturday.

Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney, Jamie Heaslip, Harry Ellis and Tom Croft are set to feature as Leicester Tigers and Leinster go head-to-head in Edinburgh just a week before the Lions play their first match on tour in South Africa.

O’Driscoll, Fitzgerald and Healsip all start for Leinster, while Croft, a recent Lions replacement for the suspended Alan Quinlan is named in the Leicester starting line up.

Kearney and Ellis are both included among the replacements, with 2005 Lion Shane Horgan and Fijian international Isa Nacewa chosen above Kearney and goal-kicking Frenchman Julien Dupy keeping Ellis out of the Tigers’ No9 shirt.

The Heineken Cup Final is the last domestic fixture prior to the Lions’ 10-match tour and head coach Ian McGeechan will be hoping his players stay injury free ahead of his squad’s departure for the Republic on Sunday night.

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McGeechan has already seen Tomas O’Leary, Tom Shanklin and Jerry Flannery ruled out of the tour through injury, while Cardiff Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny is currently receiving treatment and will not fly out with the squad this weekend.

A further seven players in the Leinster and Leicester matchday 22s have been involved with the Lions on previous tours, taking the total number with current or past Lions experience to 13.

Gordon D’Arcy, Horgan, Geordan Murphy, Ben Kay, Julian White and Lewis Moody all toured with the Lions four years ago, while Malcolm O’Kelly was a Lion in 2001 as well as 2005.

Leicester Tigers: G Murphy (captain); Hamilton, Erinle, Hipkiss, Tuilagi, Vesty, Dupuy; Ayerza, Chuter, Castrogiovanni, Croft, Kay, Newby, Woods, Crane

Replacements: Kayser, White, L Deacon, Moody, Ellis, Smith, J Murphy

Leinster: Nacewa; Horgan, B O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, Fitzgerald; Sexton, Whitaker; Healy, Jackman, Wright, Cullen (capt), O’Kelly, Elsom, Jennings, Heaslip

Replacements: Fogarty, McCormack, Toner, O’Brien, Keogh, R Kearney, Dempsey

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