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O’Brien Hits 50 As Leinster Make One Change For Semi-Final

O’Brien Hits 50 As Leinster Make One Change For Semi-Final

Kildare man Jimmy O'Brien is pictured after Leinster's 23-14 Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final away to Leicester Tigers last weekend ©INPHO/Evan Treacy

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has announced an unchanged team to take on Toulouse in the last-four of the Heineken Champions Cup at Aviva Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 3pm). Tickets are available to purchase here.

There is one enforced change to the matchday squad that conquered Leicester Tigers in England last weekend, with Ciaran Frawley replacing Tommy O’Brien on the bench.

Former Ireland Under-20 captain O’Brien sadly suffered an ACL injury this week ruling him out of the remainder of the campaign and beyond.

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In the starting XV, winger Jimmy O’Brien will make his 50th appearance for the province as part of a potent back-three that also contains Hugo Keenan and James Lowe.

Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw continue their partnership in midfield, while captain Jonathan Sexton and last week’s Heineken star-of-the-match, Jamison Gibson-Park, complete a settled back-line.

Up front, Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong retain their spots ahead of a big scrum battle with the French side. Behind them will be Ross Molony and James Ryan, who came through his return from injury with no issues last week.

Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, a try scorer against Leicester, and Jack Conan are once again the first choice trio in the back row.

Frawley is the one change on the bench with last week’s European debutant, Joe McCarthy, holding onto his spot. Long-serving prop Cian Healy is in line for his 99th Champions Cup appearance.

They are joined by Dan Sheehan, Michael Ala’alatoa, Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath and Ross Byrne. The winners of Saturday’s clash will advance to play either Racing 92 or La Rochelle in the May 28 final in Marseille.

Looking forward to renewing rivalries with the defending champions, Ringrose said: “We have an opportunity again to achieve great things in this competition. Playing against Toulouse, a club with a rich European history, the only team with five stars on their shirt, will be a test against the very best in Europe.

“We were very happy with our victory (away to Leicester). It was an important part of our progress. We had a very difficult game, which was physically and mentally challenging at the same time.

“Everyone arrived on Monday morning with aches and pains. But in terms of energy, motivation, the group is looking forward to Saturday.

“We always enjoy winning games, but it’s the defeats that make you progress. We learnt a big lesson after that defeat (in last season’s semi-final away to La Rochelle).

“It has guided our motivation since the beginning of this season. We must now seize this opportunity on Saturday afternoon.”

Leinster last hosted Toulouse at the semi-final stage in 2019, also at the Aviva Stadium, in a game that the province won 30-12 in front of a 42,916-strong crowd.

LEINSTER (v Toulouse): Hugo Keenan; Jimmy O’Brien, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Ross Molony, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Cian Healy, Michael Ala’alatoa, Joe McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath, Ross Byrne, Ciaran Frawley.