Ahead of the visit to the RDS of the Ospreys on Friday evening (kick-off 8pm), head coach Matt O’Connor has made a number of changes and one surprise addition to the replacements bench for the Heineken Cup round 6 tie.
The backs division sees no change from the side that started last Sunday’s hard-fought away win in Castres, but up front there are four changes in personnel.
However, the most surprising inclusion is the addition of the fit-again Richardt Strauss as reserve hooker.
The four-times capped Ireland international was diagnosed with a heart condition last October and while initially ruled out for the rest of the season, he has progressed excellently to the extent that the medical team has cleared him to play sooner than expected.
Sean Cronin is once again selected as the province’s starting hooker and will win his 63rd Leinster cap against the Ospreys, while the fit-again Cian Healy scrums down beside him after an impressive display off the bench against Castres.
On the other side of Cronin, having been named in Ireland’s extended Six Nations squad, Martin Moore gets the nod at tighthead prop. Last weekend’s starting props, Jack McGrath and Mike Ross, will provide cover from the bench.
Should Ross feature off the bench, it will be Corkman’s 100th Leinster appearance since joining in 2009/10 from Harlequins.
Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy are retained in the second row, but there are two changes in the back row with Kevin McLaughlin and Player of the Month Jordi Murphy making way for the fit-again Rhys Ruddock and Shane Jennings. Jamie Heaslip captains the side from number 8.
There is one final change for Friday with the Bank of Ireland logo on the jersey being replaced by the Gahan Meats logo.
Gahan Meats won a competition hosted by Bank of Ireland and were selected as the Leinster sponsors for the day and will have prominence on the jersey, in the matchday programme and on pitchside hoardings.
LEINSTER (v Ospreys): Rob Kearney; Dave Kearney, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Jamie Healsip (capt).
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen, Jordi Murphy, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan, Zane Kirchner.