The Leinster squad to face Munster in Friday night’s Magners League derby clash at Thomond Park (kick-off 8.05pm) has been named.
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll is a notable absentee for Leinster, with the medial ligament damage he suffered in his right knee against Scotland recently ruling him out of selection.
But Gordon D’Arcy, who sustained a groin strain in the Scotland game, has been included in the province’s squad for the trip to Limerick.
His Ireland colleagues Cian Healy and Jamie Heaslip also return to the Leinster panel, after being rested for last weekend’s league derby against Connacht.
In addition, Scotland lock Nathan Hines has been named in the extended squad which will be reduced to the matchday 22 on Thursday afternoon.
Rob Kearney, a try scorer in the 17-14 victory over Connacht, is one of 12 Ireland internationals in the squad which also includes the likes of Isa Nacewa, CJ van der Linde and Stan Wright.
In excess of 4,000 Leinster supporters are expected to make the trip down to Thomond Park for this much-anticipated game.
Giving his take on things, Leinster consultant coach Alan Gaffney feels that the current league leaders will need to show a marked improvement if they are to overcome an in-form Munster side.
“There’s no doubting that we didn’t reach the standards that we demand of ourselves against Connacht last Saturday,” he said.
“Credit to Connacht, they played particularly well and having analysed their recent performances, it was probably the best I’ve seen them play over the last few months.
“Even though we scored a good try where (Rob) Kearney made a good line break, we didn’t get an awful lot going in terms of our attack, so that’s an area that we need to improve upon this week.
“The players themselves weren’t happy with how things went, so we will take the positives from Saturday’s game and approach this weekend’s challenge positively after welcoming back a few more players into training.”
He added: “We know how strong Munster are, right across the paddock. The traditions of (them) having a strong pack are well documented, but they also have a real cutting edge in their back-line, irrespective of the various combinations that they go with.
“Be it Tomas O’Leary or Peter Stringer, Rog (Ronan O’Gara) or (Paul) Warwick, Lifeimi Mafi and Jean de Villiers and then with Keith Earls and the rest of their back-three in such good form, they will pose a real attacking threat.
“Leinster-Munster games are regarded as some of the biggest games of the season. While there may be a perception that both sides may have one eye on the Heineken Cup quarter-finals next week, our main focus is on what happens in Limerick on Friday night.
“Whenever these two sides go head-to-head, one thing you can guarantee is that neither sets of players will hold back.”
LEINSTER Squad (v Munster) – Backs (12): Shaun Berne, Andrew Conway, Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey, Rob Kearney, Simon Keogh, Fergus McFadden, Isa Nacewa, Paul O’Donohoe, Eoin O’Malley, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton.
Forwards (15): Leo Cullen, John Fogarty, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Nathan Hines, Bernard Jackman, Shane Jennings, Stephen Keogh, Malcolm O’Kelly, Mike Ross, Rhys Ruddock, Paul Ryan, Devin Toner, CJ van der Linde, Stan Wright.