Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game, Leinster winger DAVID KEARNEY said that the squad are keen to maintain pole position against a vastly improved Dragons side…

“This will be the third time that I will come up against the Dragons in the last six months and they are a side who impress me because they play a fast, attacking game with pace out wide and they will be a handful in Rodney Parade. It will be a good test for us coming off the back of two good wins in the British & Irish Cup and we’re all conscious that we need to maintain our position in the league.

“It (Rodney Parade) is a tough place to go. A number of players, including myself, made our senior debuts there in the closing game of last season and we didn’t exactly cover ourselves in glory. We’re conscious of that. Opportunities like this don’t always come about in mid season to make an impression on the coaching staff, so we’re all excited about Sunday’s match.

“Although I have played only three times for the senior team, two of those games have been against the Dragons so I’m quite familiar with them. They fought hard in the RDS back in September and will probably feel as though they could have gotten something out of the game.

“There’s a carrot for the players to play well this weekend with two big Heineken Cup games coming up versus the Scarlets as well as a key Magners League game against Ulster later on in the month.

“I have been pleased enough with my own form in the British & Irish Cup. In both wins the wingers were fairly starved of the ball out wide, but hopefully Sunday will provide more chances to get my hands on the ball.

“Training has been sharp with the Ireland ‘A’ player returning to training after being away for the last few weeks. The standard of training goes up another notch and it’s great to train with the senior internationals. You have to feed of that experience and it gives you a good buzz and re-focuses the mind for the task at hand.

“Everyone’s fresh, focused and determined to keep our place at the top of the league.”