Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has named his team for Friday’s Champions Cup round 6 match against Castres Olympique at Stade Pierre Antoine (kick-off 8.45pm local time/7.45pm Irish time).
Leinster are already assured of top spot in Pool 4 and a place in the quarter-finals, but a win away to Castres would set up a home quarter-final at the Aviva Stadium on the weekend of March 31-April 1/2.
Leo Cullen has made three changes in total, all of them in the pack. It is as you were in the backs with full-back Isa Nacewa, this season’s Champions Cup top try scorer (six tries), again captaining the side. Nacewa is also the top points scorer with 75 points to his name.
In the number 11 and 14 jerseys are former St. Michael’s College student Rory O’Loughlin and former Naas RFC starlet Adam Byrne, with O’Loughlin due to celebrate his 23rd birthday on Saturday.
Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose will again line out alongside each other in midfield, while Luke McGrath and Jonathan Sexton complete the back-line selection. Out-half Sexton went past the 500-point mark in European Cup rugby last weekend against Montpellier.
Cian Healy and Richardt Strauss come in from the start this week to join Wexford’s Tadhg Furlong in the front row. There is another change in the second row with Ross Molony making only his second European start beside Devin Toner. Molony also featured against Castres in round 1, coming off the bench at the RDS.
The back row is as you were with Jack Conan, the three-try Heineken man-of-the-match from last weekend, selected at blindside flanker, Josh van der Flier at openside and Jamie Heaslip at number 8.
LEINSTER (v Castres Olympique): Isa Nacewa (capt); Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Rory O’Loughlin; Jonathan Sexton, Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Tadhg Furlong, Ross Molony, Devin Toner, Jack Conan, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: James Tracy, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Mike McCarthy, Dan Leavy, Jamison Gibson Park, Ross Byrne, Rob Kearney.