Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has announced the team to take on Cardiff Blues in the GUINNESS PRO12 at the RDS on Saturday evening (kick-off 5.15pm).
Captain Kevin McLaughlin has failed to come through the return-to-play protocols in time for the game and as a result, Isa Nacewa will captain the side from full-back on his first appearance back at the RDS since his return from a coaching position with the Auckland Blues.
Nacewa also stands to cross the 400-point mark for Leinster on Saturday evening should he successfully convert any opportunities that come his way from the tee or from play. The Auckland native is currently on 399 points for the province. He is in fifth position on the all-time Leinster points scorers list.
Elsewhere, there is only one change to the back-line that featured in the opening defeat to Edinburgh. UCD clubman Garry Ringrose will make his debut for Leinster having been an unused replacement in last week’s game at Meggetland. The 20-year-old Academy player was a mainstay in Nigel Carolan’s Ireland Under-20 team that competed in last season’s Six Nations and World Rugby U-20 Championship.
Noel Reid and Ben Te’o get another chance to impress in the centre, while St. Michael’s school-mates Luke McGrath and Cathal Marsh are again selected as the starting half-backs.
Up front, the aforementioned McLaughlin is ruled out through injury as is Tom Denton who similarly failed to recover in time having gone through the return-to-play protocols.
Michael Bent, hooker Aaron Dundon and Jamie Hagan will form an experienced front row with Ross Molony coming in for Denton in the second row. It will be Molony’s first start for Leinster having played twice last season and having impressed off the bench last Friday. The 6ft 5in lock will have plenty of experience beside him as Mike McCarthy closes in on 300 professional club appearances.
The back row consists of Dominic Ryan at blindside flanker, Josh van der Flier, who comes in for his first appearance of the season at openside, and Ireland international Jack Conan at number 8.
On the replacements bench, Lansdowne clubman Tadhg Beirne is in line to make his debut off the bench in his first year out of the Leinster Academy. Tickets for the round 2 game against Cardiff Blues are still on sale and can be purchased here.
LEINSTER (v Cardiff Blues): Isa Nacewa (capt); Garry Ringrose, Ben Te’o, Noel Reid, Fergus McFadden; Cathal Marsh, Luke McGrath; Michael Bent, Aaron Dundon, Jamie Hagan, Ross Molony, Mike McCarthy, Dominic Ryan, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Peter Dooley, Royce Burke-Flynn, Tadhg Beirne, Daniel Leavy, Isaac Boss, Ross Byrne, Cian Kelleher.