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Leinster Select All-Ireland Team For Saints Showdown

Leinster Select All-Ireland Team For Saints Showdown

The Leinster team to face Northampton Saints in Saturday evening’s Heineken Cup round 3 clash at Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off 6pm) has been named, and head coach Matt O’Connor has selected an all-Ireland side to start.

In an experienced line-up, Brian O’Driscoll, who has recovered from concussion, will resume his centre partnership for the province with Gordon D’Arcy.

Ian Madigan continues at out-half alongside Eoin Reddan who is in line to make his 89th Leinster appearance. Luke Fitzgerald joins brothers Dave and Rob Kearney in the back-three.

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Jamie Heaslip leads the team and the Naas man is named in the back row alongside Sean O’Brien and Rhys Ruddock who will win his 69th Leinster cap in Northampton.

Devin Toner returns to the second row after his involvement with Ireland during the GUINNESS Series. He will partner Mike McCarthy, with Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross, who now lies six appearances shy of the century mark for Leinster, completing the pack.

Leo Cullen continues his recent return to action and is one of a further four Ireland internationals on the bench alongside Kiwi out-half Jimmy Gopperth and South African Zane Kirchner.

Speaking ahead of the game, head coach Matt O’Connor said: “We’ve had a good training week and the Test boys have come back well, so we’re in a good place.

“Northampton have picked up a handful of world class players since (the 2011 Heineken Cup final) and they’ve tried to evolve their game.

“We’ve still got to deal with their strength which will be the drive and the scrum and the momentum that creates. They’re scoring tries, winning games and playing good rugby at the moment.

“We’ve certainly got to limit the opportunities they get. Once they get momentum they’re a very good side.

“But if we play anywhere near our potential, we’re good enough to win the game. The challenge for us is making sure we’re at our best.”

LEINSTER (v Northampton Saints): Rob Kearney; Dave Kearney, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip (capt).

Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Leo Cullen, Shane Jennings, Isaac Boss, Jimmy Gopperth, Zane Kirchner.