For Saturday’s BKT United Rugby Championship derby against Munster, Jonathan Sexton returns to captain a Leinster team that shows nine changes in personnel.
45,000 tickets have been sold for the interprovincial encounter at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm). The remaining tickets are available to buy online here.
Jimmy O’Brien switches to the right wing to accommodate Ciaran Frawley’s first Leinster start in the full-back position. The pair are part of the Ireland squad for the upcoming Bank of Ireland Nations Series.
Ireland ‘A’ call-up Jamie Osborne completes the back-three, Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw pair up together in midfield, and Sexton is partnered by Luke McGrath, the half-back duo having 365 Leinster appearances between them.
James Ryan has recovered from a knee injury to take his place in the second row. Dan Sheehan starts his fifth game of the season at hooker, flanked this week by Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong.
South African lock Jason Jenkins, who spent last season at Munster, will face his former team, while Max Deegan and Scott Penny, who make their first appearances since the successful Emerging Ireland tour, link up with Caelan Doris in the back row.
Joining Leinster’s injury list in the last few days were Will Connors, who has had a procedure done on a bicep injury and is out for 12 weeks, and Ronan Kelleher and Harry Byrne, whose hamstring injuries are set to keep them out for up to eight weeks.
Hugo Keenan has stepped up his rehabilitation from abdominal and knee injuries. Josh van der Flier, the URC player-of-the-match in Galway, misses out this week with an ankle injury.
Scrum half Nick McCarthy will win his 50th cap for Leinster if introduced off the bench. Academy hooker John McKee is set to be involved again, after coming on as a replacement during last May’s 35-25 win over Munster.
Speaking about what the interprovincial derbies mean to those involved, head coach Leo Cullen said: “It’s a huge occasion, the nature of the week on week – that’s the challenge. I said it after the (Connacht) game last week, but for Irish Rugby, it has to be a point of difference.
“The way the provinces are supported, the sense of identity that each provincial team has – and they have their own unique identity. It’s important we celebrate that.
“We’re expecting a really physical challenge and that’s what we’ve prepared for this week because we think that’s coming from Munster. It’s a huge game for both teams. It’s great to be here at the Aviva.
“I believe there’s going to be a huge crowd, on a nice day – it hasn’t been fantastic this week (weather wise), but conditions are meant to be good for tomorrow.”
He added: “We’ve had a good week, looking forward to playing here at the Aviva in front of a big crowd. Another derby game. You can see how hotly contested the derby games have been before now.
“We were a bit fortunate to get out with a win against Connacht. Parts of our performance were good. Other parts, we feel like there’s a good bit to go and that’s what we’ll focus on. A good challenge ahead.”
LEINSTER (v Munster): Ciaran Frawley; Jimmy O’Brien, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Jamie Osborne; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Jason Jenkins, James Ryan, Max Deegan, Scott Penny, Caelan Doris.
Replacements: John McKee, Andrew Porter, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, Jack Conan, Nick McCarthy, Ross Byrne, Rob Russell.