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Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
Leinster look to O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll
Just mention Brian O'Driscoll and it will strike fear
BBC Sport Online assesses Leinster's chances for the forthcoming rugby season.

Leinster have flattered to deceive throughout their history.

However, Aussie coach Matt Williams is confident that the side that he took charge of last season is ready to rock and roll in the Celtic League.

When you look at the players that he has at his disposal then, there is no reason to argue with him.

Just mention Lions star Brian O'Driscoll and already Leinster must be fancied to reach the play-offs.

  Season tips:
Celtic League prediction: Knock-out stage challengers
Inter-Provincial Champ prediction: 3rd
Star player: Brian O'Driscoll

Add Malcolm O'Kelly, Denis Hickie and a few other Ireland internationals, then you can gauge Williams's optimism.

Williams has also spent wisely over the summer bring in former Wallaby fly-half Nathan Spooner as his high-profile addition.

The 25-year-old won two caps for the Wallabies and appeared regularly for the Queensland Reds during their Super 12 run.

Adam Magro, a centre from New South Wales Waratahs, is also a member of the enlarged Australian squad.

Williams also picked up Irish-qualified Ben Willis from Auckland and flanker Keith Gleeson.

Brian O'Driscoll
O'Driscoll is Leinster's big threat

Gleeson is rated very highly and has been a regular for the Waratahs for a number of seasons without breaking into the Australian team.

Williams lost the services of veteran Gary Halpin last season, but his front-row will be boosted by the return of Lions tight-head Paul Wallace.

Wallace, however, is still recovering from a nasty leg injury sustained in the Heineken Cup against Ulster last season when he was in Saracens colours.

He is not expected to return until October at the earliest.

Leinster played some brilliant attacking rugby last season and again will rely on the pace and guile of O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy and Hickie to run up the points.

Whether they have the strength up front to delivery quality possession is another thing.

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