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Healy To Reach 200-Cap Leinster Milestone In Limerick

Healy To Reach 200-Cap Leinster Milestone In Limerick

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made eleven personnel changes, bringing in a number of Ireland internationals for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 derby showdown with Munster at Thomond Park (kick-off 5.15pm).

Only Dave Kearney and Rory O’Loughlin are retained in the back-line from last Saturday’s dramatic late home win over Connacht, with Kearney switching wings to accommodate the inclusion of James Lowe. Jordan Larmour returns to the full-back position.

O’Loughlin, who shifts to the inside centre berth, is joined in midfield by Garry Ringrose, and captain Jonathan Sexton and Luke McGrath resume their half-back partnership. Sexton is averaging just over 10 points per game for Leinster so far this season.

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It will be an historic evening for Clontarf native Cian Healy as he runs out for his 200th Leinster appearance. The 31-year-old made his debut in May 2007 against the Border Reivers and has since scored 22 tries for his home province.

Joining Healy in the front row will be fellow Ireland internationals James Tracy and Tadhg Furlong, while James Ryan resumes his second row partnership with Australian international Scott Fardy. Rhys Ruddock, who captained Leo Cullen’s men to that last-gasp victory over Connacht, has Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan for company in the back row.

Speaking ahead of the defending champions’ trip to Limerick, blindside Ruddock said: “There’s a lot of competition (in the back row) and a few of the guys got a rest this week so I’m sure they’ll be raring to go as well. Obviously Munster are going to come out all guns blazing having rested a few guys as well. It’ll be a big test.

“I haven’t played down there (at Thomond Park) in a good few years, but from my experience it’s a special place to go so. I think everyone would love to be involved. It’s special having your home fans and everyone cheering you on and everything like that but there is something special about going away from home.

“The intensity they bring to the occasion and their fans, it’s a very different experience and I think it’s one that you have to relish as well. I think winning away from home is extra special, especially playing a team like Munster. There’s a huge heritage and history of being successful, especially when they play down there so yeah to get a win there is extra special.”

LEINSTER (v Munster): Jordan Larmour; Dave Kearney, Garry Ringrose, Rory O’Loughlin, James Lowe; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, James Tracy, Tadhg Furlong, Scott Fardy, James Ryan, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Peter Dooley, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Max Deegan, Hugh O’Sullivan, Ciaran Frawley, Noel Reid.