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Kearney Returns To Leinster Line-Up

Kearney Returns To Leinster Line-Up

The Leinster team to face Connacht in Friday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 derby match at the Sportsground (kick-off 8pm) has been named.

Ireland international Rob Kearney will make his first start of the season, and 121st Leinster appearance. The Louth man has been named in a back-line which also includes Fergus McFadden on the right wing.

Gordon D’Arcy will be partnered in the centre by Brendan Macken, who scored a brace of tries last weekend, with Isa Nacewa moving to the left wing and John Cooney linking up with Ian Madigan at half-back.

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Up front, Shane Jennings leads the team and he is joined in the pack by Ben Marshall and Quinn Roux, the South African lock who is set to make his second appearance for the province.

Heinke van der Merwe comes into the front row, while the province can call on an all-Ireland international front row off the bench in ex-Connacht hooker Sean Cronin, Cian Healy and Mike Ross.

New second row Tom Denton, who is looking forward to his first interpro experience, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to come over (to Leinster from Leeds), one I couldn’t refuse. The facilities are great, the coaches outstanding and the culture they have here – everyone works so hard.

“I was given my first start last week (against Edinburgh) and now I want to kick on. The pressure is on, but I prefer to play when the pressure is on because I will raise my game.

“This league is a faster tempo and that makes you a better all-round player. You make decisions and react quicker.”

LEINSTER (v Connacht): Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Brendan Macken, Gordon D’Arcy, Isa Nacewa; Ian Madigan, John Cooney; Heinke van der Merwe, Tom Sexton, Jamie Hagan, Quinn Roux, Tom Denton, Ben Marshall, Shane Jennings (capt), Leo Auva’a.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Jordi Murphy, Luke McGrath, Noel Reid, Fionn Carr.