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Controversial Gerbrandt Grobler returns to Thomond as Leinster set sights on RDS date

Thomond return: Gerbrandt Grobler. Photo: Sportsfile

Thomond return: Gerbrandt Grobler. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Controversial second-row Gerbrandt Grobler is among a number of familiar faces who will be part of the Sharks’ line-up at Thomond Park tomorrow.

The South African lock spent the 2016/’17 season at Munster where his arrival caused a major stir as a result of his previous two-year suspension for the use of banned substances.

Grobler (29) served the ban between 2014 and 2016 after testing positive for anabolic steroids while playing for the Stormers. He returned with Racing 92 and after leaving Munster he played for Gloucester and Stade Francais before returning home.

After leaving Munster, Grobler claimed he had been offered a three-year extension by the IRFU to become an Irish international but the media storm that engulfed him ahead of his debut put paid to those plans.

Many Munster fans backed Grobler in the face of the controversy and he’s likely to receive a warm welcome as fans return to the stadium for the first time to see the Sharks make their United Rugby Championship debut.

Thomas du Toit is another ex-Munster man who starts for the Sharks who have Clareman Noel McNamara on their coaching ticket, while Ruan Pienaar is another who will need no introduction to the locals.

Joey Carbery is likely to start for the Reds who could include Simon Zebo on his return to the province. They name their team for the fixture today.

Meanwhile, Leinster have confirmed they will return to the RDS for their second home game of the season against Zebre in two weeks’ time.

The province kick off their campaign at the Aviva Stadium against the Bulls tomorrow, but under the Government guidelines they can welcome their 12,000 season ticket holders to their usual venue for the October 9 game.

Leinster yesterday confirmed that they will play a leading role in World Rugby’s push to reduce the amount of contact that occurs in training to less than 15 minutes a week across two days.

Senior coach Stuart Lancaster has joined the advisory group, while Leinster are one of 10 teams using mouth guards to measure impacts in an attempt to reduce head injuries.

SHARKS – C Bosche; Y Penxe, W Kok, M Louw, T Abrahams; B Chamberlain, R Pienaar; K Mona, K van Vuuren, T du Toit; LR Roets, G Grobler; D Richardson, H Venter, P Buthelezi (capt). Reps: F Mbatha, N Mchunu, K Mchunu, H Andrew, R van Heerden, M Gumede, S Nohamba, J Ward.

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