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Leinster Team Shows Ten Changes

Leinster Team Shows Ten Changes

Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor has announced his team ahead of Sunday’s European Champions Cup Pool 2 encounter with Harlequins at the Stoop (kick-off 3.15pm).

In total there are ten changes to the side that accounted for the Ospreys last weekend in the GUINNESS PRO12, with seven of the switches in the pack and only Jordi Murphy retained in the back row. The three other alterations are at full-back, outside centre and on the left wing.

It is a new front row with Jack McGrath, hooker Sean Cronin and Mike Ross coming in from their successful stint with Ireland during the recent GUINNESS Series.

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In the second row, Mike McCarthy was named to start last weekend but was withdrawn as a precaution and after passing the return-to-play protocols this week he has once again been announced to start. Devin Toner packs down beside him for his 155th Leinster appearance.

In the back row Jamie Heaslip returns to captain the province from number 8 with Rhys Ruddock winning his 90th cap at blindside flanker, and the aforementioned Murphy making his first European start this season having missed the opening two rounds with a shoulder injury.

Rob Kearney returns to the full-back berth with Zane Kirchner reverting to the bench, while Darragh Fanning (pictured below) continues his remarkable run of games. He is the only player to have started and finished every game for Leinster this season. To date he has five tries to his name and was named Bank of Ireland Player of the Month for September.

On the left wing Luke Fitzgerald has recovered from the tightness he felt in the lead up to the Treviso game in the PRO12 and is named to start in the back-three.

Eoin Reddan, last week’s captain, and Jimmy Gopperth, who had a 100% record with the boot against the Ospreys, continue at scrum half and out-half respectively, while Ian Madigan has recovered from the ankle injury that forced his withdrawal at half-time, linking up with the returning Gordon D’Arcy in the centre.

Dominic Ryan and Dave Kearney have both missed out on selection due to injury. Both players pulled up in training on Tuesday with quad and hip issues respectively.

Neither player is a long-term concern and with a quick turnaround of games and returning internationals available for selection, they are not being risked with a big two weeks of Champions Cup action ahead and the festive interprovincial games only around the corner.

Ticket sales for the return Champions Cup fixture at the Aviva Stadium against Harlequins on Saturday, December 13 (kick-off 7.45pm) have now gone past the 35,000 mark. Click here to purchase your ticket(s) for next week’s round 4 clash.

LEINSTER (v Harlequins): Rob Kearney; Darragh Fanning, Gordon D’Arcy, Ian Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip (capt).

Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Michael Bent, Tadhg Furlong, Kane Douglas, Jack Conan, Isaac Boss, Noel Reid, Zane Kirchner.