So Gregor Townsend has put his thinking cap on and come up with this, what he believes the team that gives Glasgow the best chance of a first ever league title. There are some big calls but few would argue this is probably the best team available to him…
15. Peter Murchie – right out of the box this will set tongues wagging with no sign of Stuart Hogg anywhere near the 23. Certain to add fuel to the rumours of the young man’s discontent and intended departure (despite being under contract for another year) to possibly Ulster or Saracens. Murchie though is the form player, having taken his chance when Hogg was banned post-Six Nations and holding his place in the team. Solid, if less dynamic than Hogg. A reassuring presence at the back which is what you want with Brian O’Driscoll looking to make his retirement a glorious one.
14. Sean Maitland – coming back to his Lions form at just the right time. One of those players who is maybe not quite as prolific as you thought he might be, but when he is finding space on almost every carry with that lazy stride of his, he provides an important contribution to Glasgow’s momentum.
13. Alex Dunbar – possibly harsh on Mark Bennett who has been very impressive this season and who will find himself on Sevens duty at Ibrox instead of the Summer tour but if fit, Dunbar was always going to play. A big game player and the ideal man to try and shackle O’Driscoll in his Scotland position of 13, although he could play 12 also.
12. Pete Horne – back fit and providing a NZ style second creative spark in the centre. Scott Johnson might fancy his inside centres bulkier but Horne is there on merit and creates a second axis for Glasgow to play off.
11. Tommy Seymour – one of the few playing this match, the Scotland tour and the Commonwealth Sevens. In proper scoring form and probably in good-enough enough shape to keep scoring machine Tim Visser out of the Scotland team – assuming Maitland and Hogg were your others, and that’s not for certain either…
10. Finn Russell – a big call but you won’t find anyone outside of the Weir and Jackson households who would disagree that the young fly-half is there entirely on merit. If he emerges from this game with credit it will cap one of those meteoric rises we so rarely see in the conservative world of Scottish Rugby.
9. Chris Cusiter – could give Scotland’s best scrum-half the perfect end to his time at Glasgow as he heads off to Sale. Despite rare appearances this season has probably seen him look the fittest and play the best rugby of his career. Will be key in keeping Glasgow moving.
1. Gordon Reid – like Murchie, another Lion is displaced by the form player, which is nothing if not refreshing. Could go on to have a storming summer if he can keep Mike Ross in the shade and maybe even grab another try?
2. Dougie Hall – lot of MacArthur fans may be disappointed but Hall perhaps holds the edge in the scrums.
3. Jon Welsh – looks to have overtaken Low in the pecking order and this may be replicated at Scotland level. Will need to be at his sharpest against Cian Healy.
4. Jonny Gray – no real doubt about this, the young pretender lining up again alongside his mentor… Will need a big ball carrying performance once again. But he’s been doing it all season, grafting in a way that his brother is often (unfairly) criticised for not doing. Swinson had a big tour last summer and Gray could be that mean this year.
5. Al Kellock (capt) – the best leader Scotland has would never miss out on a game of this magnitude. He’ll most probably go out there hell for leather looking to do to Devin Toner what he dished out to Paul O’Connell in the semi at full throttle for as long as he can. A capable replacement in Tim Swinson waits on the bench should Big Al burn himself out.
6. Rob Harley – Townsend’s choices in the back row must have been harder than anywhere else so this ideally should represent the blend he feels best to take on Leinster. Harley is Glasgow’s player of the season and his hard tackling will contrast nicely with Fuzzy scrapping on the deck and Strauss pushing the team forward.
7. Chris Fusaro – another fine season for the openside who finally picked up his first cap. Against streetwise Leinster who always ride the fine line between infringing and getting away with it, this will be the sternest test of his year to secure and steal ball.
8. Josh Strauss – he’s kept Glasgow going forward all season and it would take an earthquake to stop him doing it again at the RDS. Somehow he manages to get through bodies time after time, and even against stern defences those yards are invaluable. After this he can enjoy a well-earned holiday, although few would bet against him missing his holidays next year if he gets called up to Scotland duty just in time for the World Cup.
Replacements: 16. Pat MacArthur, 17. Ryan Grant, 18. Moray Low, 19. Tim Swinson, 20. Leone Nakarawa, 21. Niko Matawalu, 22. Ruaridh Jackson, 23. Sean Lamont
A strong international bench, and this could well be key. Let’s not forget that if you need a game changed, there may well be no-one in Europe better than Niko Matawalu for that…
15: Rob Kearney, 14: Fergus McFadden, 13: Brian O’Driscoll, 12: Gordon D’Arcy, 11: Zane Kirchner, 10: Jimmy Gopperth, 9: Eoin Reddan; 1: Cian Healy, 2: Sean Cronin, 3: Mike Ross, 4: Devin Toner, 5: Mike McCarthy, 6: Rhys Ruddock, 7: Shane Jennings, 8: Jamie Heaslip (capt)
16: Aaron Dundon, 17: Jack McGrath, 18: Martin Moore, 19: Leo Cullen, 20: Sean O’Brien, 21: Isaac Boss, 22: Ian Madigan, 23: Darragh Fanning
RaboDirect PRO12 Final, RDS, Dublin, Saturday 31 May (kick-off 6.15pm) – live on BBC ALBA & BBC TWO Scotland
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges, Ian Davies (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Maurizio Vancini (FIR)
TMO: Derek Bevan (WRU)