The Leinster team to face Clermont Auvergne in Sunday’s crunch Heineken Cup round 3 clash at the Stade Marcel Michelin (kick-off 4pm local time/3pm Irish time) has been named.
Head coach Joe Schmidt has kept faith with ten of the players who started last weekend’s bonus point victory over Zebre in the RaboDirect PRO12.
Ian Madigan resumes at full-back where he started both of Leinster’s opening two wins in Pool 5 over Exeter Chiefs and the Scarlets. His inclusion, at the expense of Andrew Conway, sees Isa Nacewa reverting to the left wing.
New Zealander Andrew Goodman makes his Heineken Cup debut in the centre alongside Gordon D’Arcy, who this weekend will become the province’s most-capped player in tournament history.
Sunday’s match will represent D’Arcy’s 88th Heineken Cup appearance. Inside him, it is also a landmark day for Jonathan Sexton who will reach 100 Leinster caps. He is joined at half-back by Isaac Boss.
Up front, props Cian Healy and Mike Ross return to starting roles with hooker Sean Cronin getting the nod over recent Ireland debutant Richardt Strauss.
It will be Cronin’s fourth Heineken Cup start for Leinster. Leo Cullen leads the team from the second row alongside Damian Browne, who is the only member of the starting pack without Ireland senior honours.
Number 8 Jamie Heaslip is another frontliner returning to the starting line-up. Fresh from captaining Ireland in the GUINNESS Series, he links up once more with Kevin McLaughlin and the fit-again Sean O’Brien.
Compared to the Leinster side that started last season’s semi-final against Clermont Auvergne, there are six changes in personnel with injured duo Brian O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney the most notable absentees.
LEINSTER (v Clermont Auvergne): Ian Madigan; Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy, Andrew Goodman, Isa Nacewa; Jonathan Sexton, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Damian Browne, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan, Fionn Carr, Andrew Conway.