Australian international Scott Fardy takes the captaincy reins for Leinster’s round 5 encounter with Lyon in the Heineken Champions Cup at the RDS on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 1pm).
Head coach Leo Cullen has made eight personnel changes for the game, with ticket sales now past the 17,500 mark. The final few hundred tickets are available at leinsterrugby.ie.
James Lowe slots back in on the left wing for his 40th provincial appearance, with the in-form Dave Kearney moving to the right. Robbie Henshaw rejoins Garry Ringrose, the tournament’s top try scorer this season with six so far, in a familiar midfield combination.
Ross Byrne is the final back-line change, swapping in for Ciaran Frawley at out-half, while tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong is the only player retained in the tight five. Cian Healy, James Tracy, Devin Toner and stand-in skipper Fardy are reintroduced up front.
Max Deegan, who starred with two tries and three assists against Connacht last Saturday, retains the number 8 jersey – he was also a try scorer against Lyon back in November – and Rhys Ruddock, last week’s man-of-the-match, and Josh van der Flier complete the starting pack.
As his side look to take a step closer to a home quarter-final, Cullen said: “The home quarter-final piece is important because, as we’ve talked about in the past, statistically there is a better chance of winning our quarter-final if you’re at home.
“We want to try and stack the deck in our favour. In terms of possession, it’s being accurate when we have the ball so we don’t get sloppy with some of our behaviour. So we’re not forcing passes, so we’re not getting impatient trying to make something magical happen.
“Trying to control possession, control the ball is important, not allowing them access around the ruck where they have some good strong physical players that like to go aggressive at that area.
“There’s so much on the line for a lot of our players, obviously us collectively as a team as well, it’s massive. And it’s important everyone plays within the system of the way we want to play but it’ll be a big test for a lot of our guys.”
LEINSTER (v Lyon): Jordan Larmour; Dave Kearney, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, James Tracy, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Scott Fardy (capt), Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Max Deegan.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Peter Dooley, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Caelan Doris, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ciaran Frawley, Rob Kearney.