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Leinster Make One Change For Exeter Clash

Leinster Make One Change For Exeter Clash

Former Australian international Scott Fardy will feature in the second row for Leinster this weekend ©INPHO/Tom O'Hanlon

The return of Scott Fardy to the second row is Leinster’s only change to the squad to play Exeter Chiefs in Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at Sandy Park (kick-off 5.30pm).

Head coach Leo Cullen has stuck almost entirely with the same matchday 23 that was selected for last week’s cancelled round of 16 match at home to Toulon.

James Lowe wins his 50th provincial cap in an unchanged back-line, joining fellow Ireland internationals Hugo Keenan and Jordan Larmour in a pacy back-three.

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With Garry Ringrose still sidelined with an ankle injury, Rory O’Loughlin continues to partner Robbie Henshaw in midfield, while captain Jonathan Sexton and Luke McGrath fill the half-back berths.

Ryan Baird makes way for Fardy in the second row, with Devin Toner teaming up with the latter. The front row features the international trio of Cian Healy, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong.

Rhys Ryddock, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan, who scored a decisive late try when Leinster last visited Exeter in December 2017, will again form the back row for the 2018 champions.

It is a tough task for Cullen’s side as Exeter, the 2020 Champions Cup winners, are unbeaten in their last 11 completed games in the tournament, and have won their last eight home fixtures in Europe.

Leinster assistant coach Felipe Contepomi commented: “The challenge is it can’t get bigger, going to play the champions in their backyard. It’s the biggest challenge you can have and especially Exeter, not only the European champions, but the Premiership champions and the team which has been building up to what they are for the last five years.

“They have a very, very effective recipe in terms of getting to the 22. The one thing is you’d like to try and not give them any access to the 22, but you know that’s part of their game so we also have to understand that we have to be very effective in defence.

“If they get into our 22 it’s a massive defensive challenge for us. But hopefully we can get the ball and play some Leinster rugby as well.

“Definitely, when we get into the last metres of the pitch we want to be effective and get as many points as possible and we try to work ourselves, but the way we do it is different to them in the details.

“I would like to have the success rate they have in the 22 – any coach would love to have that in their team. But we’re pretty good at that.”

LEINSTER (v Exeter Chiefs): Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Rory O’Loughlin, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Scott Fardy, Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Ryan Baird, Hugh O’Sullivan, Ross Byrne, Dave Kearney.