Irish contingent return to action
September 14, 2012
Brian O'Driscoll will start for Leinster against Treviso on Saturday © Getty Images
The battle to secure a place on the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia starts on Saturday for many of Ireland's finest with a host of internationals recalled to the Leinster side ahead of their trip to Treviso.
It will be the first time that Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip and Jonathan Sexton run out for the Dublin side this term and they will hope to impress the Lions selectors ahead of their 2013 tour. Supporters would have last caught a glimpse of the O'Driscoll and Sexton in Ireland's heavy defeat to the All Blacks at the end of June.
O'Driscoll et al will be joined in the team by fellow internationals Fergus McFadden, Kevin McLaughlin and Mike Ross while Cian Healy will have to be content with a spot on the bench.
Elsewhere in the RaboDirect PRO12, O'Driscoll's Ireland team-mate Stephen Ferris makes his long-awaited comeback from injury on Friday evening. He will be playing his 100th game for Ulster when they take to the field against Munster and he last turned out for the club in the Heineken Cup final last season. He missed Ireland's tour to New Zealand with a calf complaint and in a Lions year, he will hope to avoid the spate of injuries that dogged his season last term.
Munster's Ireland contingent will predominantly start on the bench with Ronan O'Gara, Conor Murray and Keith Earls named amongst the replacements for the match with their Irish rivals.
And there is more good news for the Lions selectors with Jamie Roberts taking his place on Cardiff Blues' bench for their match with the Dragons. While the likes of Sam Warburton and Alex Cuthbert start for the Blues, Roberts' inclusion is likely to grab the headlines. He has been out of action since April after undergoing knee reconstruction.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action
The latest Week in Pictures takes in some original ways of welcoming teams to the field and plenty of tries from the European Champions Cup