I'd like to see Kev get some gametime in the second row at this level, maybe the last 20mins or so. Bath played both their second rows for the full 80mins in the last game, and neither are huge powerhouses – I don't think Kev would suffer by comparison if he came on, and we'd really be able to up the tempo with Cronin, Nathan White, Jenno and Kev coming off the bench. Wouldn't mind seeing Rhys Ruddock start on the blindside, he has put in some good performances this season at the head of some weakened teams during the World Cup, and I think he deserves a start. Big ask for him to go up against Francois Louw, but I think he needs the test.
Fergus McFadden had a very strong game on Sunday, I felt. He's got waaaaay more pace than D'Arcy these days, and I think there are line breaks to be made in the Donald/Barkley channel. Darce doesn't seem to trust his pace at all anymore, he hasn't put the hammer down in space for a season. He had a good game in the Rec though, and Joe is obviously a fan. Bit harsh to leave him out, but it'd be good to see McFadden and O'Malley playing as a combination at this level.
R Kearney; I Nacewa; E O'Malley; F McFadden; L Fitzgerald; J Sexton; E Reddan; J Heaslip; S O'Brien; R Ruddock; D Toner; L Cullen; M Ross; R Strauss; C Healy
G D'Arcy; I Madigan; I Boss; S Jennings; K McLoughlin; N White; S Cronin; H van der Merwe
Half-wrong, half-right with my prediction. Surprised not to see Cian start, but that is a hell of a lot of pace to bring on in the front five if the game opens up - we all saw how quick Nathan White was with his try against Cardiff, Cian and Cronin have incredible pace for front-rowers, add Locky and
Ruddock to the mix ... if things go right for us in the first hour, we could really see some high-paced stuff in the last twenty minutes.
Eoin O'Malley will need to put in a huge defensive performance against Banahan. He has done a similar job before against Rougerie in Clermont, but it's by no means a fait accompli
this time around. Banahan dwarfs him.