Eleven players from Ireland’s successful summer tour to New Zealand will start for Leinster in Friday’s BKT United Rugby Championship match against Benetton Rugby. Tickets are available here.
Leo Cullen’s men have their first home run-out of the new season at the RDS (kick-off 7.35pm), and Garry Ringrose takes the captaincy reins as one of those returning Ireland internationals.
Also back on provincial duty is vastly-experienced prop Cian Healy, who is poised to make his 250th appearance for Leinster off the bench.
Dave Kearney, Luke McGrath, Michael Ala’alatoa and Jason Jenkins, a try-scoring debutant in Italy last Saturday, are the only starting players retained from the 33-29 bonus point win away to Zebre Parma.
Ringrose is reunited in midfield with fellow All Blacks conqueror, Robbie Henshaw, while Jimmy O’Brien and Jordan Larmour join Kearney in the back-three, and Emerging Ireland call-up Ciaran Frawley forms the half-back pairing with McGrath.
Ryan partners South African Jenkins for the first time behind a front row made up of Ala’alatoa, Andrew Porter and Dan Sheehan, with the latter two making their seasonal bows.
The 23-year-old Ryan Baird, who played in both of the Māori All Blacks matches in July, gets the nod at blindside flanker. The back row is completed by Caelan Doris and the newly-married Josh van der Flier.
Looking forward to improving on their performance in Parma, Leinster’s new backs coach Andrew Goodman said: “There were bits of the game that we were really happy with, the way we started.
“But then you have patches throughout, letting them back in through some of our errors and the way they controlled the tempo in the second half when we could have been a lot better.
“Some positives to take out of it, but some good lessons and learnings for us moving forward, which is always great first week to go away and get five points but to have some really good learnings to keep us on edge for a very tough game coming up.”
The New Zealander added: “Looking across the board, and chatting with the other coaches here, the general expectation is that there’s going to be an improvement over the whole competition which is exciting.
“It’s a real challenge for us every week to make sure we’re on our game to get the results that we’re after.”
LEINSTER (v Benetton Rugby): Jimmy O’Brien; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose (capt), Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney; Ciaran Frawley, Luke McGrath; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Michael Ala’alatoa, Jason Jenkins, James Ryan, Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Ed Byrne, Cian Healy, Ross Molony, Will Connors, Cormac Foley, Ross Byrne, Charlie Ngatai.