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Opponents in Focus: Leinster

9th May 2007

Leinster go into Friday nights do or die encounter with the Cardiff Blues knowing that victory is a must.

But the Blues know that that's easier said than done. This is particularly apt given their inconsistent run of form in Wales in recent times.

Before their most recent victory in the Principality a month or so ago in Rodney Parade against the Dragons, the previous best performances was under Declan Kidney's regime when a last-minute Girvan Dempsey try helped seal a Christmas time win on the club's last visit to the Arms Park (last year's game was played in the Millennium Stadium).

The club has been named the Magners League's best supported team this season - based on the highest average gate with over 112,722 spectators at their home games in Donnybrook and Lansdowne Road this season at an
average of 12,525.

Though missing influential skipper Brian O'Driscoll through injury, the squad includes the likes of Gordon D'Arcy, Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie, Girvan Dempsey and Trevor Hogan who were all involved on Six Nations duty recently. Jamie Heaslip was also involved in the fringes of the Ireland squad.

Tonight's fixture may well bring to a close the final chapter in this year's Magners League title race, but the season isn't quite over yet for some of the Leinster panel.

Leinster have a strong representation on the summer tour to Argentina (7) and the Barclays Churchill Cup, while skipper Felipe Contepomi will be doing his utmost to get one over on what you could call his 'adopted' home from home as the influential Puma is expected to feature for.

This match does mark the final curtain for three Leinster players. Ex-Llanelli scrum-half Guy Easterby will return to the family farm in Harrogate, Yorkshire after a hugely successful spell with the province, while prop Will Green will be staying in Ireland for some time having just set up in business with ex-Leinster Manager David McHugh called Tri-Line Sports Solutions and is based on Event Management.

This game formally brings to a close the career of Leinster's most decorated player of all time, former captain Reggie Corrigan, who has been an outstanding presence since his debut ten years ago.

All three retirees leave the scene with the squad's best wishes and all will be keen to leave the scene on a high.

Leinster look forward to welcoming back both Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings from the Leicester Tigers, but first and foremost is the clash against the form side in the Magners League with such a proud tradition. As the song goes, it could be a case of the winner taking it all. Let the games begin..