Stung by last week’s derby defeat to Connacht, Leinster welcome back a number of Ireland internationals – including the fit-again Jordan Larmour – for the visit of Conference A leaders Ulster to the RDS on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm).
Larmour’s three-month lay-off following a dislocated shoulder is over, with the Ireland star returning on the right wing. Dave Kearney continues on the left and Hugo Keenan is back on provincial duty at full-back.
Captain Jonathan Sexton, who has completed his return-to-play protocols, is the only other starter retained from the Connacht game. He is joined at half-back by Jamison Gibson-Park, while Ross Byrne switches to outside centre, alongside Robbie Henshaw, for the first time in his senior career.
An entirely new pack has hooker Sean Cronin making his first start of the season after recovering from a thumb injury. He combines in the front row with fellow internationals Cian Healy and Andrew Porter.
Stand-in skipper Rhys Ruddock has shaken off a rib injury to fill the blindside berth, alongside Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris, with Scott Fardy and James Ryan packing down together in the engine room.
On the bench, Harry Byrne returns from the back injury he picked up during the warm-up before last month’s Heineken Champions Cup home match against Northampton Saints.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s top of the table encounter, second row Ryan said: “We’re treating this very much like a cup final. Ulster will be doing the same. They’re probably out of Europe now, but they’re unbeaten in the league.
“They’ll back themselves going away from home. I think they’ll have a lot of belief coming here. So there’s a bit of an edge to our preparation this week.
“Probably a bit of a fear factor as well, which is often needed. We realise that if we don’t perform then we won’t get the result we’re looking for.”
LEINSTER (v Ulster): Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Scott Fardy, James Ryan, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.
Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne, Jimmy O’Brien.