Eight Ireland-capped players have been included in the Leinster squad that will take on Biarritz and Bath in two mouth-watering pre-season friendlies over the next two Fridays.
Having failed to make the Irish World Cup squad, Leo Cullen, Luke Fitzgerald, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip, Trevor Hogan, Bernard Jackman, Shane Jennings and Rob Kearney have all knuckled back down to training with Leinster ahead of their new campaign.
All eight will be hoping to lay an early marker down when the province meet French side Biarritz at the Parc Des Sports Aguilera (kick-off 8pm Irish time) this coming Friday.
New signings Chris Keane and Stephen Knoop could debut for Leinster in France, while Argentinian prop Juan Francisco Gomez is also chasing his first game for the province.
After the clash with Biarritz, Michael Cheika’s 33-man squad will travel to Barcelona for a week long training camp before making their way to the Recreation Ground on Friday week for a tussle with English outfit Bath (kick-off 6.30pm).
Other players hoping to get a run-out during Leinster’s pre-season programme are some of the province’s Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam-winning heroes – prop Cian Healy, out-half Ian Keatley, hooker Richard Sweeney and back rower Sean O’Brien.
On the injury front, scrum half Cillian Willis has recovered from the shoulder injury which kept him out of action since the turn of the year and he joins Keane and former Wallaby Chris Whitaker as the scrum halves in the Leinster panel.
LEINSTER Pre-Season Squad: Forwards – Cian Healy, Ronan McCormack, Stan Wright, Brian Blaney, Bernard Jackman, Juan Francisco Gomez, Stephen Knoop, Richard Sweeney, Trevor Hogan, Cameron Jowitt, Leo Cullen, Devin Toner, Stephen Keogh, Richie Leyden, Keith Gleeson, Shane Jennings, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Backs – Chris Keane, Chris Whitaker, Cillian Willis, Jonathan Sexton, Ian Keatley, Rob Kearney, Michael Berne, Christian Warner, Luke Fitzgerald, Fergus McFadden, Vasily Artemiev, Gary Brown, Fionn Carr, Ross McCarron.