Rob Kearney: Flawless European campaign not out of reach for confident Leinster

By Brendan O'Brien

Rob Kearney believes Leinster can repeat their flawless European campaign of last year when they became only the second team to win all nine games on the way to taking the continental title.

Only Saracens had achieved the feat prior to that and the Ireland full-back laid down a marker for the province – and others – when talking up their challenge ahead of Friday's Heineken Champions Cup first-round encounter against Wasps in Dublin.

“It's tough to do, but there's no reason why we can't. You set out at the start of the year to win trophies and that's your goal as a team of course.

To do that, chances are, you are going to have to win nine games in a row. So, listen, it's doable but it's more important to win one from one first.

Head coach Leo Cullen has named a strikingly strong side to open their account. The first XV will consist of 14 Ireland internationals and Kiwi wing James Lowe. Sean O'Brien and Scot Fardy could only make the bench. A fit Rhys Ruddock will go unused.

It must have made for an achingly tough selection process.

“It's competitive anyway,” admitted Cullen on Thursday afternoon. "It depends on how you define tough, but lots of guys disappointed for sure. The backroom team have worked incredibly hard to make sure all the players are managed well.

“A lot of time, effort and care has gone into making sure we have as many players available as possible. The work that goes in in the background away from the actual rugby side of things is massive for us.

“With a big group we have, and the demands placed that is placed upon them, we hope we've managed the guys well so they're peaking at this time of year. “

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