Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made six personnel changes and one positional switch for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 derby showdown with Connacht at the Sportsground (kick-off 5.15pm).
The Leinster management have kept faith with the majority of the side that secured a 31-7 bonus point win at home to Edinburgh, with Sean O’Brien, who underwent shoulder surgery in April, poised to return to action off the bench in Galway.
Rob Kearney slots back in at full-back, meaning a move to the right wing for Jordan Larmour, one of the province’s five try scorers across the back-line last Saturday. James Lowe, who went close to bagging a brace against the Scots, continues on the left.
Australian international Joe Tomane partners Garry Ringrose in the centre for the first time with captain Jonathan Sexton and Luke McGrath filling the half-back positions, as Leinster look to avenge last April’s disappointing 47-10 defeat to Connacht.
Cian Healy, the man-of-the-match in the Edinburgh game, is joined by former Connacht hooker Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong in a powerful front row, while Meath man Devin Toner will make his 221st appearance in the second row, matching Leo Cullen’s caps haul in joint-third on Leinster’s all-time list. Gordon D’Arcy remains out in front on 261.
Rhys Ruddock is the sixth and final team change at blindside flanker and his back row colleague O’Brien is set to make a welcome return as a replacement. It will be the Tullow native’s first outing for Leinster since he started at openside against Benetton Rugby five months ago.
LEINSTER (v Connacht): Rob Kearney; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Joe Tomane, James Lowe; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Scott Fardy, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Sean O’Brien, Nick McCarthy, Ross Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin.