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Jennings Captains Youthful Leinster Side

Jennings Captains Youthful Leinster Side

The Leinster team to face Connacht in Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 derby clash at the RDS (kick-off 7.45pm) has been named.

Shane Jennings leads a young Leinster team for the visit of Connacht. The Dublin-born flanker is one of six Ireland internationals in the hosts’ starting line-up, joining Rhys Ruddock and number 8 Jordi Murphy in a newly-formed back row.

Amongst the international contingent is Fergus McFadden who starts on the right wing in a back-three that is completed by ex-Connacht flyer Fionn Carr and full-back Andrew Conway.

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With a number of Ireland internationals being rested this week, there are three personnel changes in the back-line with Gordon D’Arcy and Eoin Reddan making way for Andrew Goodman and Isaac Boss respectively.

Ian Madigan, Boss’ half-back partner, lies in third place in the league’s top points scorer list with 74 points in 11 games so far this season.

Recent Ireland cap Michael Bent is the only survivor in the front row from last weekend’s defeat to Ulster, as Heinke van der Merwe and Aaron Dundon are called up to start.

Ben Marshall takes over in the second row from benched captain Leo Cullen. It will be the 22-year-old’s fifth appearance for the province – he is one of four current Academy players or recent Academy graduates in the pack.

Speaking ahead of the interpro tie, Andrew Conway said: “It has been a frustrating last few weeks for the squad. Our performance over in Clermont was pretty good, but over the last two games we haven’t been clinical enough and we have been disappointed with aspects of our play.

“Against Ulster there was only a point between the two sides five minutes into the second half, but they were quick to seize an opportunity and that’s what good sides do.

“(Dan) Parks has been a big signing for Connacht and with some of their ex-Leinster boys like Paulie (O’Donohoe) and Dave McSharry going so well, they’re going to be a big threat.

“But the thing about Connacht is that they have built a strong squad of players. Up front they’re physical and abrasive and if we allow them the chance to dominate us, we’ll be punished.

“From my own perspective, it has been great to get a run of games under my belt this year. I’m picking up a lot of experience and that was a big target for me at the start of the year. But from a personal point of view I don’t feel as though I’ve hit my stride yet.”

There are now over 17,000 tickets sold for Saturday’s game and tickets are still on sale online here, and from the Leinster Rugby Store (Donnybrook), Spar (Donnybrook) and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.

LEINSTER (v Connacht): Andrew Conway; Fergus McFadden, Brendan Macken, Andrew Goodman, Fionn Carr; Ian Madigan, Isaac Boss; Heinke van der Merwe, Aaron Dundon, Michael Bent, Ben Marshall, Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings (capt), Jordi Murphy.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen, Dominic Ryan, John Cooney, Noel Reid, Adam Byrne.