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Three Changes For Leinster

Three Changes For Leinster

The Leinster team to face Ulster in Saturday’s historic all-Irish Heineken Cup final at Twickenham (kick-off 5pm) has been named.

Head coach Joe Schmidt has made three changes in personnel as the province bid to retain their European crown and become Heineken Cup champions for the third time in four years.

From the side that started the 19-15 semi-final victory over Clermont Auvergne, the injured Luke Fitzgerald (neck) makes way for Fergus McFadden with Isa Nacewa wearing the number 11 jersey this time.

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Eoin Reddan has been preferred to Isaac Boss at scrum half, while Kevin McLaughlin will take on the blindside flanker role with Sean O’Brien selected at openside. Shane Jennings drops to the replacements.

Leo Cullen leads the province and he starts in the second row alongside Brad Thorn, with McLaughlin joining his Ireland colleagues Jamie Heaslip and O’Brien in a strong back row.

Cian Healy starts in the front row alongside Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross, who makes his 65th appearance for the province.

Reddan links up with Jonathan Sexton at half-back, while the brilliant tandem of Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy will resume their centre partnership.

O’Driscoll is fit to play after undergoing keyhole surgery on knee cartilage damage last Friday and D’Arcy, whose 86th European appearance makes him the joint fifth most-capped Heineken Cup player, has recovered from the facial injury he suffered against Glasgow Warriors last weekend.

Rob Kearney, who has scored six tries in eight Heineken Cup games so far this season, has shaken off a back injury to take his place in the back-three alongside McFadden and Nacewa.

Speaking after the Captain’s Run at Twickenham, Schmidt said: “Brian didn’t train today, but Rob had a run. He’s feeling fairly comfortable and we are confident he will be out there with Brian.

“It is pretty much 100% they will both be playing and there is no medical reason whey they can’t. Brian hasn’t had a reaction to the knee operation and the presumption is he will play a full part – and that is certainly his presumption.”

LEINSTER (v Ulster): Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Isa Nacewa; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Brad Thorn, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Heinke van der Merwe, Nathan White, Devin Toner, Shane Jennings, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan, David Kearney.