Preview: Leinster v Munster

Date published: October 7 2016

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Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made 11 changes to his starting XV to take on Munster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

There are a number of internationals coming back into the fold and a first start in Leinster colours for Westmeath native Robbie Henshaw. 

Rob Kearney comes back from a knee injury sustained in the Round 2Two game against Glasgow Warriors to take up his place at full-back with Rory O'Loughlin on the right wing for his first home start and with captain Isa Nacewa on the left. Nacewa currently sits on 499 points for Leinster ahead of his 152nd appearance in blue.

Garry Ringrose comes back into the number 13 jersey having missed the trip to Cardiff and Robbie Henshaw makes his debut beside him at 12. 

The 23-year-old who joined Leinster in the summer has 22 caps for Ireland and is returning from a shoulder injury picked up on the Ireland tour to South Africa in the summer. 

Scrum-half Luke McGrath comes back in to the starting 15 with Johnny Sexton outside him after his Man of the Match performance last weekend.

In the pack, it's a new front row with Irish internationals Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong packing down.

Devin Toner is partnered in the second row by Cork native and former Munster player Ian Nagle who makes his first home appearance for Leinster. 

In the back row Rhys Ruddock starts at blindside flanker with Jordi Murphy at openside. Finally, Jamie Heaslip makes his 221st appearance for Leinster which will equal Leo Cullen's 221 in moving into joint second place on the all-time appearance table. 

Gordon D'Arcy is still the club's most capped player with 261 appearances.

Meanwhile, Munster stalwart Peter O'Mahony returns to his team's starting line-up and resumes his role as captain as part of five changes made by director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. 

Showing no ill effects from his return to competitive action last weekend, flanker O'Mahony is one of three personnel changes to the pack with Niall Scannell and John Ryan returning to the front row. 

Two positional switches in the pack see Donnacha Ryan move to four, partnered by Billy Holland who reverts to the second row.

In the backs, Rory Scannell has successfully rehabbed the neck injury he sustained against Cardiff in Round Two to start alongside Keith Earls in the centre for the first time this season. The final change sees Ronan O'Mahony start on the left wing.

Should he feature from the bench tomorrow, Robin Copeland will make his first appearance of the season while also named among the replacements is Jack O'Donoghue who returns to action following a neck injury picked up in the win over Edinburgh in Round Four.

Form: The Leinstermen’s only reversal at Aviva Stadium in the Championship was against Munster in October 2014. Munster have lost just one of their last seven PRO12 fixtures and that by a single point in 47 against Cardiff Blues in Cork on 9 September. Munster’s only win in their last five encounters with Irish provinces was 9-7 over Ulster in Belfast on 2 January. Leinster achieved the season’s double over Munster in 2015/16 to reverse the two Munster successes the previous season. The last seven meetings between the two old foes at the headquarters of Irish Rugby have resulted in six Leinster wins and one by Munster.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Rory O'Loughlin, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa (c), 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Noel Reid

Munster:  15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony (c), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Jack O'Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Jaco Taute

Date: Saturday, October 8
Venue: Aviva Stadium
Time: 14:05 local (13:05 GMT) 
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland) 
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gaffikin, Richard Kerr (both Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland) 

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