NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS (6th) v LEINSTER (5th), Rodney Parade, 7.05pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC 2 Wales)
Team News: The Leinster team to face the Newport Gwent Dragons in Friday night's RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Rodney Parade has been named.
The Leinster management have selected an exciting line-up for the trip to Newport in a match which will see Springbok star Zane Kirchner make his first start for the province after coming on as a replacement in the win over Connacht last weekend.
Kirchner is named to start at full-back in a back-three which includes the fit-again Lote Tuqiri and St. Mary's College captain Darragh Fanning.
Luke Fitzgerald - one of four Ireland internationals in the starting line-up - continues his centre partnership with Noel Reid, while there are recalls for Jimmy Gopperth and scrum half John Cooney, who makes his 24th appearance for the province.
Shane Jennings leads the team and the experienced flanker is named in the back row alongside Rhys Ruddock and Dominic Ryan, who is set to appear in Leinster colours for the 51st time.
Michael Bent switches to loosehead prop in a front row that also includes Aaron Dundon and Martin Moore who trained with the Ireland squad earlier this week.
The replacements bench includes seven players who are either current products of the Leinster Academy or graduates of the academy.
One of those players is Wexford-born tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong, who is another product of the Leinster Youths system to progress through the ranks in recent years.
Meanwhile, flanker Lewis Evans will captain the Dragons in the absence of Andrew Coombs who is currently away with the Wales squad training for the November internationals.
The region's director of rugby Lyn Jones has made in total eight changes to the starting line-up including the Colwyn Bay-born Pat Leach who returns to the Dragons fold after spending almost seven weeks out with his elbow injury.
He makes up one half of the centre pairing alongside Ross Wardle. There is also a change at full-back with Hallam Amos moving there from out wide, leaving Adam Hughes to wear the number 11 jersey and Tom Prydie stays on the right wing.
After recovering from concussion Jason Tovey returns to the out-half berth and Richie Rees keeps his place as scrum half.
The front row remains the same as last weekend's 40-17 defeat away to the Ospreys, but the second rows are altered with Matthew Screech and Adam Jones joining forces.
The only switch in the back row sees Netani Talei move to number 8 to anchor the Welsh side's scrum.
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS: Hallam Amos; Tom Prydie, Pat Leach, Ross Wardle, Adam Hughes; Jason Tovey, Richie Rees; Owen Evans, Sam Parry, Dan Way, Adam Jones, Matthew Screech, Jevon Groves, Lewis Evans (capt), Netani Talei.
Replacements: Hugh Gustafson, Nathan Williams, Francisco Chaparro, Rob Sidoli, Ieuan Jones, Jonathan Evans, Kris Burton, Dan Evans.
LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Darragh Fanning, Luke Fitzgerald, Noel Reid, Lote Tuqiri; Jimmy Gopperth, John Cooney; Michael Bent, Aaron Dundon, Martin Moore, Quinn Roux, Tom Denton, Dominic Ryan, Shane Jennings (capt), Rhys Ruddock.
Replacements: James Tracy, Jack O'Connell, Tadhg Furlong, Ben Marshall, Leo Auva'a, Luke McGrath, Cathal Marsh, Brendan Macken.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies, Neil Hennessy (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Newport Gwent Dragons to win: Evens; Draw: 18/1; Leinster to win: 4/5
Pre-Match Quotes: Jimmy Gopperth (Leinster) - "We want to close off this part of the season before the November break on a high and we have a bit of ground to make up in the PRO12 table.
"It has been good to get a run of three wins on the bounce, but each of the players knows that this week we have to step up.
"There will be a few new faces and it's important that we have a few of the experienced heads back because players like Jenno (Shane Jennings) are proven leaders.
"We will need to tap into all of our experience in Newport because they're going to be pumped up themselves having lost to the Ospreys last weekend.
"The Dragons have some impressive emerging talent in the likes of Hallam Amos and there has been a fair amount of personnel change over the last few months who are making their mark.
"Kris Burton is a proven international and was a smart signing because he is bringing a lot of quality and experience to their backline.
"Looking at a lot of their footage over recent months, they have been quite unlucky at times in a few games and had a bit of luck gone their way they could be higher up the table."
Lewis Evans (Newport Gwent Dragons) - "Leinster always bring a formidable team and we know that a challenge will be coming up this weekend...regardless of what side they put down they are a big threat.
"Their strength and depth in the squad is unbelievable and we have lost our two internationals now and we have had to bring in some of the guys who probably haven't had much game time this year or they have started every game. Whereas they pretty much have a new starting line-up with fresh feet."
Top Scorers - 2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12: Newport Gwent Dragons - Points: Jason Tovey 42; Tries: Hallam Amos 2; Leinster - Points: Jimmy Gopperth, Ian Madigan 42 each; Tries: David Kearney 2
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, November 19, 2010 - Leinster 27 Newport Gwent Dragons 6, the RDS
Sunday, March 27, 2011 - Newport Gwent Dragons 16 Leinster 26, Rodney Parade
Friday, September 9, 2011 - Leinster 31 Newport Gwent Dragons 10, the RDS
Saturday, May 5, 2012 - Newport Gwent Dragons 18 Leinster 22, Rodney Parade
Saturday, September 8, 2012 - Leinster 45 Newport Gwent Dragons 25, the RDS
Friday, March 1, 2013 - Newport Gwent Dragons 19 Leinster 26, Rodney Parade
- The Newport Gwent Dragons have slipped to back-to-back defeats in all competitions, but have not lost at Rodney Parade in the RaboDirect PRO12 since Leinster were the visitors in March
- Leinster achieved a third successive victory in all competitions last Saturday in narrowly overcoming Connacht at the RDS, having only led for the first time in the game in the 77th minute
- The Leinstermen have not been defeated by a Welsh region in 2013, the last side to do so being the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium in November 2012
- Leinster have won their last six encounters with the Dragons since the Welshmen's last success at Rodney Parade in December 2009
|24/2/17||Newport Gwent Dragons||22 - 54||Leinster Rugby||4,059|
|3/12/16||Leinster Rugby||28 - 15||Newport Gwent Dragons||10,979|
|29/1/16||Newport Gwent Dragons||23 - 13||Leinster Rugby||4,303|