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Connors And Keenan To Make European Debuts For Leinster

Connors And Keenan To Make European Debuts For Leinster

Hugo Keenan and Will Connors have been selected for their first Heineken Champions Cup appearances in Leinster blue ©INPHO/James Crombie

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made four personnel changes for their crunch Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

Showing the intense competition for places within the province’s ranks, there is no starting place for Josh van der Flierthe Guinness player-of-the-match in last week’s PRO14 final win – as Will Connors returns at openside flanker.

Connors and Hugo Keenan, who were both part of the Ireland Men’s Sevens programme in recent seasons, will make their Champions Cup debuts, while vastly-experienced hooker Sean Cronin also gets the nod to start.

Club captain Jonathan Sexton and Luke McGrath resume at half-back for the visit of the reigning European champions, with Jordan Larmour anchoring the back-three on the occasion of his 50th Leinster cap.

Garry Ringrose, the victorious skipper against Ulster, and James Lowe and Robbie Henshaw, two of the PRO14 decider’s try scorers, complete a familiar-looking back-line.

Up front, loosehead Cian Healy will become the fourth most-capped Leinster player of all-time as he wins his 220th cap, scrummaging alongside Cronin and Andrew Porter.

Devin Toner and the fit-again James Ryan continue together in the second row, backed up by 21-year-old Champions Cup newcomer Ryan Baird from the bench.

Wicklow man Jack Conan fills the number 8 berth again with Connors looking to have a key influence with his tackling ability, and fellow flanker Caelan Doris is chasing his third try in six Champions Cup games so far this season.

LEINSTER (v Saracens): Jordan Larmour; Hugo Keenan, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Will Connors, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Ed Byrne, Michael Bent, Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin.