Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has named his team to play Northampton Saints in round 3 of the European Champions Cup at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday (kick-off 7.45pm).
There are 10 personnel changes to the team that faced the Dragons last weekend in the GUINNESS PRO12, with 10 Ireland internationals back in the mix.
Rob Kearney starts at full-back with Isa Nacewa captaining the province from the left wing and Adam Byrne on the right wing. The 22-year-old Kildare man will make his Champions Cup debut having scored five tries so far this season in the PRO12.
Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose, back from Ireland’s successful November campaign, will start in the centre together for the first time since the round 2 game against Montpellier. Fellow internationals Joey Carbery and Luke McGrath continue together at half-back.
It is a new front row with Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong reuniting as the starting trio. In the second row, Meath native Devin Toner will make his 50th European Cup appearance when he runs out against Saints. Toner’s European debut was in October 2008 against Edinburgh. He will have Hayden Triggs for company in the engine room.
Finally, in a formidable looking back row, the fit-again Sean O’Brien starts at blindside flanker with Josh van der Flier selected at openside and Jamie Heaslip at number 8.
Leinster Academy backs Ross Byrne (aged 21) and Rory O’Loughlin (22) have been selected on the bench and will make their European debuts if introduced as replacements.
LEINSTER (v Northampton Saints): Rob Kearney; Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Isa Nacewa (capt); Joey Carbery, Luke McGrath; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs, Sean O’Brien, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: James Tracy, Cian Healy, Michael Bent, Rhys Ruddock, Jack Conan, Jamison Gibson Park, Ross Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin.