Preview: Leinster v Munster

Date published: April 1 2016

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Leinster have made nine changes and two positional alterations in total to their starting XV that will face Munster at the Aviva Stadium.

With Zane Kirchner coming in at full-back, captain Isa Nacewa moves to the right wing with Dave Kearney also coming back into the equation on the left wing, winning his 98th cap for Leinster.

It is the same midfield combination of Ben Te'o and Garry Ringrose, but there are two new half-backs in Eoin Reddan, who lines up against his former club, and Johnny Sexton who returns for his first PRO12 game since the Ospreys in January.

There are five changes in total in the pack with two of these in the front row as Jack McGrath and Sean Cronin start alongside Tadhg Furlong. Like Reddan, Cronin starts against his former team for whom he played on two occasions before joining Connacht.

Devin Toner comes in to partner Hayden Triggs in the second-row, while in the back row Rhys Ruddock is again selected but moves from number eight to blindside flanker. Jordi Murphy comes in at openside to win his 75th Leinster cap while Jamie Heaslip completes the pack from number eight.

Meanwhile, Munster head coach Anthony Foley makes five changes from the side that defeated Zebre for Saturday's game.

CJ Stander resumes the role of captain for the first time since returning from international duty.

The return of James Cronin and Stander are the only two changes to the pack. Cronin will start alongside Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer in the front-row with captain Stander coming in to join Dave O'Callaghan and Tommy O'Donnell in the back-row.

Donnacha Ryan and Billy Holland remain in situ in the second-row.

Three changes across the backline see Conor Murray, Francis Saili and Andrew Conway all return to the starting XV.

Murray partners Johnny Holland in the half-backs with Saili overcoming a bang to the shoulder sustained in training last week to resume his midfield partnership with Rory Scannell.

Consequently Keith Earls makes a positional switch to the wing and joins Conway and full-back Simon Zebo in the back-three. Zebo is drawing ever closer to the 100 cap milestone for the province and will make his 99th appearance this weekend.

Form: Saturday's derby clash between Leinster and Munster will be the 33rd interprovincial derby since the creation of the Celtic League 15 years ago. Leinster go into Saturday's match ahead of their rivals in the PRO12 table but were narrowly edged out by leaders Connacht last weekend. The Red Army, in comparison, will be on a high after they bulldozed struggling Zebre 47-0 last time out. With just four games left of the season Munster's victory last weekend pushes them into the play-off places meaning there is more than just pride at stake for Anthony Foley's men when they go head-to-head with their fiercest rivals at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Isa Nacewa (c) 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ben Te'o, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fergus McFadden

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Johnny Holland, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander (c), 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Jack O'Donoghue, 21 Tomás O'Leary, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Darren Sweetnam

Date: Saturday, April 2
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 17:30 BST (16:30 GMT)
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 44th competition game)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Mark Patton (IRFU)
TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)

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