The Leinster team to face the Ospreys in the RaboDirect PRO12 at the Liberty Stadium on Friday evening (kick-off 7.05pm) has been named.
This is the fourth time the sides will have met this season and with Leinster failing to win on any of their previous three visits to the Liberty Stadium in the PRO12, head coach Matt O’Connor has selected a strong team as they try to secure top spot.
A number of Leinster players are nursing bumps and bruises from the Toulon game last weekend and with that in mind there are seven changes in personnel.
The only serious injury was to Fergus McFadden who limped off in the first half of the Heineken Cup quarter-final.
Thankfully, McFadden’s knee injury is not as bad as initially thought and the medial strain suffered is likely to keep him out for a few weeks at most. Zane Kirchner, who came on for him last Sunday, also replaces him here from the start.
Noel Reid comes in at inside centre with Gordon D’Arcy moving outside the young Clontarf man. Reid starred for the Leinster ‘A’ team last Friday, scoring a try as they comfortably overcame Munster ‘A’ in the quarter-final of the British & Irish Cup.
The final change in the back-line sees Isaac Boss start at scrum half with Eoin Reddan also left out of the matchday 23. Luke McGrath is selected as the back-up scrum half for the trip to Swansea.
There are four changes to the pack with Sean Cronin, Martin Moore, Leo Cullen and Kevin McLaughlin coming in from the start.
Cian Healy starts for the second week in-a-row having recovered from an ankle injury, with Cronin and Moore beside him in the front row.
Cullen captains the side from the second row with Mike McCarthy packing down beside him. McLaughlin, Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip complete the province’s forward unit.
There is plenty of experience on the bench with Mike Ross and Devin Toner among the options available to O’Connor, while there is a welcome return from injury for Darragh Fanning and Collie O’Shea.
Back in September, in round 2 of the PRO12, these teams played out a 29-all draw at the RDS but Leinster had the upper hand in both games in the Heineken Cup, winning 19-9 away and 36-3 at home.
“We were relatively lucky last week in that most of the blokes came through the game with only bumps and bruises, so we are able to keep a lot of the combinations together from last week,” said O’Connor.
“That will help us in terms of our execution and we will need a better all-round performance against a quality Ospreys side.”
LEINSTER (v Ospreys): Rob Kearney; Zane Kirchner, Gordon D’Arcy, Noel Reid, Dave Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore, Leo Cullen (capt), Mike McCarthy, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Michael Bent, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Jordi Murphy, Luke McGrath, Collie O’Shea, Darragh Fanning.