The Leinster team to face Montpellier in Saturday’s opening round of the Heineken Cup at Stade de la Mosson (kick-off 2.30pm local time/1.30pm Irish time) has been named.
Heinke van der Merwe is set to make his 40th appearance for Leinster, starting in the front row alongside Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross for the province’s first ever Heineken Cup meeting with Montpellier.
Cian Healy tweaked a muscle in his glute in training and the management have decided to err on the side of caution.
In all, the inclusion of the Springbok prop is one of three changes to the pack that started last weekend’s 24-19 derby victory over Munster.
Former Brive lock Damian Browne comes into the second row for his seventh Leinster appearance of the season, taking over from the benched Devin Toner.
Kevin McLaughlin, a replacement at the Aviva Stadium last weekend, joins fellow Ireland internationals Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien in the back row.
The back-line is unchanged which means that Jonathan Sexton, who amassed 138 points in last season’s successful European campaign, lines up alongside Isaac Boss at half back.
Gordon D’Arcy partners Fergus McFadden in the centre with Luke Fitzgerald linking up with Rob Kearney and Isa Nacewa in the back-three.
Shane Jennings is one of four Ireland internationals on the bench alongside Sean Cronin, Eoin Reddan and Toner.
LEINSTER (v Montpellier): Rob Kearney; Isa Nacewa, Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonathan Sexton, Isaac Boss; Heinke van der Merwe, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Damian Browne, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Nathan White, Devin Toner, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Eoin O’Malley.