The Leinster team to face the Scarlets in Saturday’s Champions Cup semi-final at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 3.30pm) has been announced by head coach Leo Cullen.
There are two personnel changes to the Leinster side that overcame last year’s champions Saracens 30-19 at the quarter-final stage. Robbie Henshaw returns from a shoulder injury in the centre, while Luke McGrath’s absence due to a knee injury sees Jamison Gibson-Park start at scrum half.
McGrath’s sidelining has a knock-on effect for James Lowe who misses out on selection as Champions Cup rule 3.7 states that teams can only have a maximum of two ‘non-Europeans’ in their squad. The pair included for tomorrow’s game are New Zealander Gibson-Park and Australian Scott Fardy.
In a rejigged back-line, Henshaw comes back in to make his first appearance for Leinster since January’s round 6 victory in Montpellier. The Athlone man teams up with Garry Ringrose to renew the midfield combination that worked so well against Exeter Chiefs in the December double header.
Isa Nacewa, one of four Leinster players nominated for the European Player of the Year honour, shuffles across to the left wing berth, joining Rob Kearney and Fergus McFadden in an experienced back-three, while Jonathan Sexton will captain the province from half-back alongside Gibson-Park.
In an unchanged pack from the Saracens game, Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong start together in the front row with the 213-times capped Devin Toner and James Ryan behind them in the second row.
Fardy, Dan Leavy, who was a try-scoring man-of-the-match against Sarries, and Jordi Murphy continue as the starting back row, backed up by the fit-again Jack Conan who features on the bench and provides a timely boost with the luckless Sean O’Brien undergoing shoulder surgery this morning.
Jordan Larmour missed the quarter-final win through injury but returns to a European matchday panel for the first time since starting on the right wing against Montpellier in January. With over 47,000 tickets sold, the last remaining Leinster v Scarlets semi-final tickets are still on sale online on www.ticketmaster.ie.
LEINSTER (v Scarlets): Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Isa Nacewa; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, James Ryan, Scott Fardy, Dan Leavy, Jordi Murphy.
Replacements: James Tracy, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Jack Conan, Nick McCarthy, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.