The Leinster team to face Munster in Saturday evening’s RaboDirect PRO12 derby clash at Thomond Park (kick-off 6.30pm) has been named.
Brian O’Driscoll will make his first Leinster appearance since the Heineken Cup victory over Exeter Chiefs, returning to provincial duty after the Six Nations and his three-week suspension for a stamping incident in Ireland’s loss to Italy.
For the trip to Limerick O’Driscoll will link up with his long-term centre partner Gordon D’Arcy, Leinster’s man-of-the-match against London Wasps.
Fergus McFadden picked up a slight calf strain during last Friday’s Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final, but should be available for the away trip to Zebre next week along with Jonathan Sexton who will be given an extra week to fully recover from his foot injury.
Ian Madigan’s 28-point haul last weekend took him past the 300-point career mark and he has now scored 202 points in his 26 appearances so far this season.
Sean O’Brien will make his 80th appearance for Leinster at Thomond Park and is joined in the pack by fellow Ireland international Sean Cronin who is set for his 45th outing in Leinster colours.
Leo Cullen leads the team from the second row where he is partnered by Quinn Roux, with Shane Jennings recovering from last week’s illness to take his place in the back row alongside O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip.
Kevin McLaughlin is one of four Ireland international forwards named on the bench, the others being Richardt Strauss, Michael Bent and Devin Toner.
Commenting on the interprovincial clash, Strauss said: “It is great to have Brian O’Driscoll back for the Munster game. We have been fortunate to have had a good record against Munster in recent seasons, but it is going to be a tough one.
“They are coming off a really good win against Harlequins and that wasn’t easy. They will be on a high, but hopefully we can do a job.
“Munster had a brilliant second half against Harlequins. You could see the intensity and the physicality they played with. So, we’re very excited about that. We just expect the same as we saw in that second half.”
LEINSTER (v Munster): Rob Kearney; David Kearney, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Isa Nacewa; Ian Madigan, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Quinn Roux, Sean O’Brien, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Kevin McLaughlin, John Cooney, Andrew Goodman, Andrew Conway.