After training in UCD this morning, Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor announced the matchday 23 to take on Edinburgh in Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO12 final roudn clash at BT Murrayfield (kick-off 3pm).
There are three changes to the starting line-up which results in a first appearance of the season at outside centre for 24-year-old Clontarf man Colm O’Shea, while Leinster Academy member Cian Kelleher could make his senior debut if introduced from the bench.
Both players were involved in the Ulster Bank League Division 1A final last weekend when Kelleher’s Lansdowne side defeated reigning champions Clontarf. It has been a good week for Kelleher (20), who was also awarded the Ulster Bank League Rising Star award on Thursday for his performances this season.
Elsewhere, the pack is the same that beat Benetton Treviso last time out with Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross combining in the front row and Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy selected together again in the second row.
In the back row Jordi Murphy starts at blindside flanker with Sean O’Brien at openside, while Jamie Heaslip, Leinster’s lone try scorer against Treviso, continues at the base of the scrum at number 8 and as captain.
Rob Kearney features at full-back once more in an all-international back row, with his younger brother Dave on the left wing and 29-times capped Springbok Zane Kirchner on the right.
It is a new centre partnership for the trip to Edinburgh with Noel Reid at inside centre and the aforementioned O’Shea (pictured above with Matt O’Connor) at outside centre. As a result, Ian Madigan switches to out-half with Isaac Boss the final change as he starts at scrum half.
Saturday will mark Jimmy Gopperth’s last involvement in a Leinster jersey before he moves to Wasps in the summer and should he make an appearance off the bench, it will be his 59th cap. He has 350 points to his name to date and has started 13 of the 15 European Cup games Leinster have been involved in during his time. He won a PRO12 title last season, scoring 14 points in the final against Glasgow Warriors.
With Gordon D’Arcy and his wife Aoife expecting their first baby this week, he was not considered for selection.
LEINSTER (v Edinburgh): Rob Kearney; Zane Kirchner, Colm O’Shea, Noel Reid, Dave Kearney; Ian Madigan, Isaac Boss; Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Jordi Murphy, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip (capt).
Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Michael Bent, Tadhg Furlong, Tom Denton, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Jimmy Gopperth, Cian Kelleher.