Preview: Leinster v Scarlets

Date published: May 18 2017

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has recalled a number of players for their PRO12 semi-final clash with the Scarlets at the RDS on Friday.

Joey Carbery is selected at full-back with Adam Byrne starting on the right wing and captain Isa Nacewa on the left for his 170th cap.

Robbie Henshaw has recovered from injury to take his place in the centre with Garry Ringrose outside him in the number 13 jersey.

Luke McGrath, winning his 75th cap, and Johnny Sexton are the half-back combination for the knockout game with a place in the PRO12 Final on Saturday week in the Aviva Stadium at stake.

In the pack British and Irish Lions duo Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong are selected at loosehead and tighthead prop with James Tracy at hooker.

Ross Molony starts in the second-row with Hayden Triggs beside him starting his final game in the RDS Arena before he retires at the end of the season.

Finally in the back-row Rhys Ruddock and Josh van der Flier are selected on the flanks with Jack Conan at number eight.

Cullen has gone with a six two split on the bench with two back rowers in his selection including the fit again Seán O’Brien. Zane Kirchner will be making his final appearance in the RDS Arena should he be introduced.

Meanwhile, Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac welcomes back James Davies, who has recovered from a shoulder injury suffered in the Judgement Day clash against the Dragons back in April.

Internationals Jake Ball and Ken Owens however are not available for the semi-final clash suffering with shoulder and ankle injuries respectively.

Scotland international and captain John Barclay also returns from injury and will lead the Scarlets in Owens' absence.

Carmarthen born hooker Ryan Elias, who was last week named in Wales' squad for the summer tour, joins international props Rob Evans and Samson Lee in the front-row. Lewis Rawlins links up with Tadhg Beirne, making a return to his home province, in the second-row whilst Aaron Shingler joins Davies and Barclay in the back-row and will be hoping to see a repeat of his try-scoring exploits only a fortnight ago.

The backline remains unchanged from the side that faced the Ospreys with Rhys Patchell at the helm at fly-half with international scrum-half Gareth Davies by his side.

Steff Evans, Liam Williams and Johnny McNicholl add strength and firepower in the back three whilst internationals Scott Williams and Jonathan Davies pair up in midfield.

Form: Leinster have played in seven previous PRO12 semi-finals, all at home (six at the RDS Arena), and winning them all. The Leinstermen’s 13-17 reversal in Ulster in round 22 ended a ten game winning streak in the Guinness PRO12. Leinster have not been defeated at home in the PRO12 since Newport Gwent Dragons won 16-14 at the RDS Arena in February 2015. Leinster’s only defeat to a Welsh Region this season came when they visited Parc y Scarlets in November. Scarlets have reached the Semi-Finals only once before, losing 17-28 at that stage to Ulster in Belfast in 2013. Scarlets only defeat since round 11 of the Guinness PRO12 was 9-45 against Leinster at the RDS Arena in March. The last seven matches between the two sides have all been won by the home team on the day, whilst Scarlets only previous victory y at the RDS Arena came on their first ever visit in October 2007.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa (c), 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 James Tracy, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Seán O’Brien, 22 Jamison Gibson-Park, 23 Zane Kirchner

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay (c), 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Hadleigh Parkes, 23 DTH van der Merwe

Date: Friday, May 19
Venue: RDS, Dublin
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Simone Boaretto (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)

COMMENTS