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Sexton And Jennings Return For Leinster

Sexton And Jennings Return For Leinster

The Leinster team to face Munster in Saturday’s Magners League semi-final showdown at the RDS (kick-off 8pm) has been named.

Jonathan Sexton, who has been out with a recent jaw injury, will return to the Leinster starting line-up for Saturday’s sell-out derby encounter.

The St. Mary’s College clubman partners Eoin Reddan at half-back in a back-line which includes six Ireland internationals.

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Sexton’s inclusion at number 10 sees Isa Nacewa, who kicked 17 points in the 37-28 victory over Edinburgh last weekend, move to the left wing and Girvan Dempsey drops to the replacements bench.

Nacewa forms a back three with Shane Horgan and Rob Kearney who, along with Cian Healy and Stephen Keogh, were try-scorers in the bonus point victory over the Scottish side.

Flanker Shane Jennings has recovered from an ankle injury to lead his native province for the fifth time this season in the absence of the injured Leo Cullen (shoulder). Jennings will resume his back row partnership with Kevin McLaughlin and Jamie Heaslip, the recently named IRUPA Supporters’ Player of the Year.

Cullen’s place in the second row has been filled by Malcolm O’Kelly who will make his 187th Leinster appearance ahead of his retirement at the end of the season.

Leinster coach Michael Cheika will finalise the make-up of the bench closer to kick-off.

Looking forward to his final provincial derby before his move to Stade Francais, Cheika said: “It has been an enlightening experience (coaching against Munster).

“It’s everything that’s good about the game when these big derby matches (come around), even the losses which evoke the same emotions because you want to win the games so much.

“I hope that I run into them again sometime soon when I leave because they’re a quality outfit and you know you have to battle against them up to the very end.

“We all love to talk about having great victories or winning tournaments, but at the end of the day when Saturday comes along, you want to have a good go and no team gives you a better game than them.

“I think that the key issue is to take every encounter on its own basis. Every ruck and every ball is going to be contested very fiercely.

“If you saw the way they fought against Cardiff (last Sunday), they fought for everything on the ground. It wasn’t pretty but they really showed their character in fighting for every ball.

“If there’s one thing we are, it’s well aware of the fact that we’re going to have to be at our most physical if we want to win the game.”

LEINSTER (v Munster): Rob Kearney; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Isa Nacewa; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, John Fogarty, Stan Wright, Nathan Hines, Malcolm O’Kelly, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jennings (capt), Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements (from): Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, CJ van der Linde, Trevor Hogan, Rhys Ruddock, Stephen Keogh, Paul O’Donohoe, Shaun Berne, Fergus McFadden, Girvan Dempsey.