The Leinster team to face Castres Olympique in round 2 of the European Champions Cup on Sunday (kick-off 2pm local time/1pm Irish time) has been announced by head coach Matt O’Connor.
Unfortunately the game at Stade Pierre-Antoine has come too early for both Mike Ross and Rob Kearney who have not been able to shake off their groin and back injuries suffered late last week.
However, there is better news for Luke Fitzgerald who starts his first match for Leinster since March of this year when Leinster hosted Munster at the Aviva Stadium in the PRO12. It will be his 125th appearance for the province.
There are three changes to the team that beat Wasps last Sunday with one in the pack and two in the backs, in addition to a number of positional changes to accomodate the returning Fitzgerald.
It is as you were in the front row with three Ireland internationals selected from the start in Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Michael Bent. The first change is in the second row with Kane Douglas partnering Devin Toner, and Mike McCarthy starting from the bench.
There is no change again in the back row with Rhys Ruddock selected at blindside flanker and Dominic Ryan, a try scorer in the win over Wasps, starting at openside. Jamie Heaslip once again captains the side from number 8 in what will be his 191st game for the province.
The second change sees Isaac Boss starting at scrum half, instead of Eoin Reddan, with Jimmy Gopperth alongside him. Outside of them, Ian Madigan moves from full-back to inside centre with Gordon D’Arcy again selected in the 13 jersey. Noel Reid, who started in the number 12 shirt last week, reverts to the bench.
The final change is out wide with the fit-again Fitzgerald coming in on the left wing and Darragh Fanning, who touched down twice at the RDS last Sunday, moving across to the right wing. As a result, Springbok Zane Kirchner will line out at full-back.
LEINSTER (v Castres Olympique): Zane Kirchner; Darragh Fanning, Gordon D’Arcy, Ian Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Kane Douglas, Rhys Ruddock, Dominic Ryan, Jamie Heaslip (capt).
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Ed Byrne, Tadhg Furlong, Mike McCarthy, Jack Conan, Eoin Reddan, Noel Reid, Mick McGrath.