Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has announced his team to take on Connacht in their first GUINNESS PRO14 fixture of 2018 at the RDS on Monday (kick-off 3.15pm).
Over 16,000 tickets have sold for Leinster’s second interprovinicial fixture of the festive period, and the last remaining tickets can be bought at leinsterrugby.ie. With three derby clashes in 11 days, Leo Cullen has retained only two players from the side that accounted for Munster on St. Stephen’s Day.
Rob Kearney comes in at full-back with Fergus McFadden also recalled on the right wing. New Zealander James Lowe, who is retained on the left wing, makes his first appearance at the RDS and wins his third Leinster cap in all.
Noel Reid and Garry Ringrose are paired together in the centre with Luke McGrath and captain Jonathan Sexton, who has completed the return-to-play protocols, are reunited as the province’s starting half-backs.
Up front, Birr native Peter Dooley makes his first start of the season at loosehead prop alongside former Connacht hooker Sean Cronin and Andrew Porter. Ross Molony and Ian Nagle team up in the second row.
Dan Leavy is the only back rower retained following his man-of-the-match performance at Thomond Park, with Josh van der Flier and the 21-year-old Max Deegan, who is set for his first senior interprovincial appearance, completing the starting line-up.
LEINSTER (v Connacht): Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Garry Ringrose, Noel Reid, James Lowe; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Peter Dooley, Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Ian Nagle, Dan Leavy, Josh van der Flier, Max Deegan.
Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Ed Byrne, Michael Bent, Mick Kearney, Scott Fardy, Nick McCarthy, Cathal Marsh, Rory O’Loughlin.