The Leinster squad stepped up their preparations this week ahead of the start of the Bank of Ireland Series which kicks off this Friday night when the province faces Super 15 side the Melbourne Rebels at Donnybrook (kick-off 7pm).
Eoin O’Malley (ankle) is progressing well following surgery earlier this summer but this week’s pre-season opener is likely to come too soon for him and also Shane Horgan (knee). Prop Simon Shawe (quad tear) is also a doubt.
Academy centre Eamonn Sheridan, who missed a large part of last season after fracturing his ankle, is available for selection. He features in a squad which includes summer signings out-half Mat Berquist and lock Steven Sykes.
Former Leinster Academy graduates Fionn Carr and Jamie Hagan are also set to make their seasonal debuts following their moves home from Connacht.
Though the squad will be without those who are involved on Ireland duty, there will be a blend of youth and experience for this encounter with the touring Australian side.
Andrew Conway and Brendan Macken, who were both involved in the Ireland Under-20 squad at the IRB Junior World Championships in June, are in the frame alongside the likes of hooker Richardt Strauss.
Commenting on the province’s pre-season plans, head coach Joe Schmidt said: “These two high profile games against top class opposition will be very challenging, which is ideal leading into the PRO12 campaign.
“Melbourne are a new franchise with high ambitions who boast a strong array of young and experienced talent.
“We know all about Northampton’s many qualities from their performances both in their domestic league and in Europe last season.
“Both sides will provide us with a real test as we look to integrate some of our new signings into the panel ahead of the start of the PRO12.”
The team and replacements for the Melbourne game will be confirmed on Thursday afternoon.
Match tickets are available from €;10 for adults and €;5 for children, while stand tickets cost €;20. Tickets are available online here, from the Leinster Rugby Store (Donnybrook), Spar (Donnybrook) and from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.
LEINSTER Squad (v Melbourne Rebels) – Backs (12): Mat Berquist, Andrew Boyle, Fionn Carr, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Darren Hudson, David Kearney, Brendan Macken, Ian Madigan, Colm O’Shea, Eamonn Sheridan, Cillian Willis.
Forwards (16): Leo Auva’a, Aaron Dundon, Mark Flanagan, David Gannon, Jamie Hagan, Jason Harris-Wright, Jack McGrath, Ben Marshall, Jack O’Connell, Ciaran Ruddock, Rhys Ruddock, Dominic Ryan, Richardt Strauss, Steven Sykes, Devin Toner, Heinke van der Merwe.