Preview: Harlequins v Leinster

Date published: December 5 2014

Chris Robshaw will make his 200th senior appearance for Harlequins in Saturday’s European Cup clash against three-time champions Leinster at the Stoop.

Mike Brown, Marland Yarde, Joe Marler and Robshaw all return from international duty.

The two other changes to the starting line-up see George Lowe and Will Collier start at inside centre and tighthead prop respectively.

Among the replacements, Tim Swiel will look to make his first European appearance.

Meanwhile, Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor has made ten changes to the team that accounted for the Ospreys last weekend in the PRO12 with seven of those changes in the pack and only Jordi Murphy retained in the back row. The three other changes are at full-back, outside centre and left wing.

It’s a new front row with Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross coming in from their success with the Irish team in the Autumn Series. In the second row, Mike McCarthy was named to start last weekend but was withdrawn as a precaution and after passing the return to play protocols this week he has once again been announced to start with Devin Toner locking down beside him on what is his 155th appearance for the province.

In the back row Jamie Heaslip returns to captain the team from number eight with Rhys Ruddock winning his 90th cap at blidside flanker and Jordi Murphy making his first start in Europe this season having missed rounds one and two with a shoulder injury.

In the backs Rob Kearney returns to full back with Zane Kirchner reverting to the bench, while Darragh Fanning continues his remarkable run of games. He is the only Leinster player to have started and finished every game for Leinster this season. To date he has five tries to his name and was named Bank of Ireland Player of the Month for September. On the left wing Luke Fitzgerald has recovered from the tightness he felt in the lead up to the Treviso game in the PRO12 and is named from the start.

In the halfbacks, last weeks captain Eoin Reddan and Jimmy Gopperth, who had a 100% record from the boot against the Ospreys, continue at scrumhalf and outhalf, while Ian Madigan has recovered from the ankle injury that forced his withdrawal at halftime to link up with the returning Gordon D’Arcy in the centre.

Dominic Ryan and Dave Kearney have both missed out on selection due to injury. Both pulled up in training on Tuesday with quad and hip issues respectively.

Neither player is a long term concern and with a quick turnaround of games and returning internationals available for selection, neither player is being risked with a big two weeks of Champions Cup ahead and the inter-provincial games only around the corner.

Form: The only previous meeting between Quins and Leinster on the European stage came back in 2009 when the Irish side edged to a 6-5 win at the Stoop on the way to their first title. Harlequins coming into the game having lost their last two games in the league and currently sit ninth. Leinster are unbeaten since a home defeat against Munster back in early October.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 George Lowe, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler (c).
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Tom Casson

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Gordon D’Arcy, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c) 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Zane Kirchner

Date:Sunday, 7 December
Venue: Twickenham Stoop, Twickenham
Kick-off: 15:15
Referee: J