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Leinster Make Nine Changes As Internationals Return

Leinster Make Nine Changes As Internationals Return

Following the Captain’s Run this morning, Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor has announced his team to play Bath in Saturday’s European Champions Cup quarter-final against Bath at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 3.15pm).

Jamie Heaslip will lead the side as he closes in on his 200th cap for the province. Saturday’s encounter will be his 198th appearance for Leinster and first since the round 6 draw with Wasps back in January.

There are nine changes to the team that drew 34-34 with the Glasgow Warriors in last Friday’s GUINNESS PRO12 with three of those changes in the backs. Leinster welcome back all of their RBS 6 Nations title-winning players, including Rob Kearney who returns at full-back.

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Fergus McFadden, who scored Leinster’s first try last Friday and also touched down against Wasps, continues on the right wing with Luke Fitzgerald coming onto the left wing.

There is no change to the centre partnership with Ian Madigan, who scored 14 points from six kicks against Glasgow, starting at inside centre and Ben Te’o outside him. Isaac Boss joins Jimmy Gopperth at half-back, having scored two tries when introduced last Friday.

There are six changes in the pack with a front row unit of Cian Healy (pictured below), Sean Cronin and Mike Ross, while Devin Toner resumes in the second row alongside Mike McCarthy. Wallaby lock Kane Douglas remains sidelined with a hamstring/back injury.

Jordi Murphy retains his place at blindside flanker, while openside Sean O’Brien makes his first appearance for Leinster since the opening day fixture away to Glasgow Warriors. O’Brien captained the side that day from the base of the scrum but has not played for Leinster since having had shoulder surgery.

He did, however, play in four of Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations games, scoring two tries in a man-of-the-match performance against Scotland two weeks ago.

Speaking about the return of O’Brien and the other Championship winners, head coach Matt O’Connor said: “Seanie is a competitor. He fights for everything and he expects the same out of the blokes next to him. It certainly takes the pressure off Jamie in a leadership capacity because he knows he’ll have Seanie there right beside him.

“He (O’Brien) has been fantastic this week. I thought his form against Scotland and throughout the Six Nations got better and better with every minute he played. To have him back, relatively fresh, for us at this stage of the season is a huge bonus.

“The Test boys have come back into the environment and trained really well. It’s given us a very positive vibe which has been great this week.”

Click here to purchase tickets for the game with adult prices starting from €;28 and children’s prices at €;10. Over 40,000 tickets have now been sold ahead of the 3.15pm kick-off on Saturday.

LEINSTER (v Bath): Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Ian Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Jordi Murphy, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip (capt).

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Tom Denton, Dominic Ryan, Eoin Reddan, Gordon D’Arcy, Zane Kirchner.