Preview: Connacht v Leinster

Date published: September 19 2014

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Fergus McFadden comes in to replace Zane Kirchner on the wing for Leinster's derby with Connacht in Galway on Friday.

Fergus McFadden comes in to replace the injured Zane Kirchner on the wing for Leinster's derby with Connacht in Galway on Friday.

Ferguson is joined in the run-on side by Rhys Ruddock who starts his first game of the season. Ruddock is set to wear the number six jersey, with Dominic Ryan making a positional switch to number seven.

Shane Jennings will start among the replacements and is just two games away from his 200th Leinster appearance. Last Saturday's man of the match, Jamie Heaslip, completes the back-row and will captain Leinster.

The rest of the front eight are as you were from last weekend. Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy start in the second-row, with a front three of Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross.

Rob Kearney and Darragh Fanning start in the back three for the second match in a row, with Fergus McFadden coming in to replace Kirchner who will be out for two to three weeks, as confirmed by Matt O'Connor in this week's injury update.

There are no changes in midfield or in the half-backs. Ian Madigan starts at inside centre, Brendan Macken at outside centre, Jimmy Gopperth at fly-half and Isaac Boss at scrum-half.

Gordon D'Arcy is named in a Leinster squad for the first time this season, starting from the bench.

Meanwhile, Connacht coach Pat Lam has made one change to his starting line-up for this encounter.

Lock Aly Muldowney replaces Mick Kearney for his first start of the season. Irish qualified Muldowney joins the on-loan Quinn Roux in the second-row partnership while Galway man John Muldoon will captain the side from the back row.

There are no changes to the young back-line with 22-year-old Jack Carty, who earned his first start against Leinster in Galway last season, keeping hold of the reigns at fly-half.

Ireland international Kieran Marmion, who plays his 56th consecutive game since his debut in September 2012, makes up the half-back pairing.

There are changes to the bench with the uncapped Academy hooker Shane Delahunt and Ronan Loughney named amongst the forwards replacements while Dublin-born Matt Healy could also make his first appearance of the season.

Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, Lam said: “Aly comes in for his first start after recovering from a pre-season injury sustained in France.

“It's great to have further options up front and we look forward to Mick's impact off the bench.

“With the unfortunate injury to Sean (Henry), young Shane (Delahunt) comes in as a replacement.

“Shane travelled with us to Clermont and got some game time against a top French side.

“It's fair to say he's pretty excited to be getting an opportunity a lot earlier than he would have expected.

“We're pleased to have Matt (Healy) and Ronan (Loughney) back for us. They're both very hungry to play and we expect a powerful impact from the bench if they're called upon.

“As far as the game goes, there's no doubt we're all hugely excited for tomorrow's game.

“This is a brilliant opportunity for our young side to test themselves as a team against a world-class side full of quality individuals.”

Form: Connacht have begun the new Guinness PRO12 season with back-to-back narrow victories over Dragons and Edinburgh, but have never begun a season with three successive wins. Connacht have been defeated in their last eleven contests with fellow Irish provinces since beating Leinster at the Sportsground in September 2012. Leinster's only loss in their last seven PRO12 games came in Glasgow in the opening round. The Leinstermen have won their last six fixtures against fellow Irish provinces since tripping up in Munster last October. Connacht have achieved three victories over Leinster in their last twelve meetings, all in Galway during Leinster's last six visits.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Danie Poolman, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Aly Muldowney, 3 Nathan White, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Matt Healy.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney. 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Darragh Fanning, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Gordon D'Arcy, 23 Mick McGrath.

Date: Friday, September 19
Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Venue: The Sportsground
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Eddie Hagan-O'Connell, Olly Hodges (both IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: John Cole (IRFU)
TMO: Seamus Flannery (IRFU)

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