Preview: Leinster v Scarlets

Date published: November 29 2013

Leinster boss Matt O'Connor has made nine changes to his team for Saturday's clash with the Scarlets at the RDS in Dublin.

Leinster boss Matt O'Connor has made nine changes to his team for Saturday's clash with the Scarlets at the RDS in Dublin.

The province can call upon several members of the Ireland squad who were involved in the recent November Tests. There's a blend of youth and experience across the team with the province's most capped player Gordon D'Arcy (who will make his 228th appearance) partnering Brendan Macken (with 32 provincial caps to date) at centre.

Eoin Reddan makes his 88th appearance and links up with Ian Madigan at half-back, with Luke Fitzgerald – who makes his 115th Leinster appearance and is one of eight Ireland internationals named in the starting XV – named in an exciting back three alongside South African international Zane Kirchner and former Wallaby Lote Tuqiri.

Leo Cullen will make his seasonal debut for the province and is named at lock alongside Mike McCarthy.

Fresh from his involvement with the Ireland squad, Jack McGrath will start in the front row alongside Aaron Dundon and Martin Moore. Shane Jennings leads the side and is named in the back-row alongside Academy graduates Rhys Ruddock and Jordi Murphy who will wear the number eight jersey.

Leinster can call upon a further three Ireland internationals off the bench, including the likes of Sean Cronin and Mike Ross as well as New Zealander Jimmy Gopperth.

Meanwhile, Scarlets boss Simon Easterby has made just two changes to his run-on side.

Scottish international John Barclay returns back to his regional shirt in the back row with Jo Synman coming in for the George Earle in the second row, with Earle side-lined with concussion.

Young Scarlets talents Rob Evans (prop) and Jordan Williams (wing) are released back from international training with Wales to come onto the bench and Romanian giant HoratiuPungea (tight head prop) returns from national duty to give another strong front row option on the bench.

Easterby highlighted the importance of this encounter.

“Securing points away from home in this period is crucial to our campaign, it was vital to win last weekend and to maintain positive momentum during a very intense couple of months of rugby for this group,” he said.

The boys really dug in well at the end last weekend and we'll need to replicate that level of ambition, commitment and effort throughout if we're to come away with any points from this weekend.

“It may be a challenging block of rugby for us but exactly where we want to be playing as a club against top quality sides and to really test ourselves.

“You need to go to face Leinster with a positive mind set and not allow them to put pressure on you throughout. They have the ability to keep hold of the ball and their continuity is second to none.

“So we're not going there to keep offering them the opportunities – we have to turn up and take our game to them as well.”

Form: Leinster have won their last five contests in all competitions since losing the interprovincial clash with Munster at Thomond Park on 5 October. The Leinstermen's single defeat at the RDS in any tournament since the 2012 RaboDirect PRO12 final was 18-22 to Ulster on 30 March. The Irishmen have not been defeated by a Welsh region since they visited Liberty Stadium in November 2012.Scarlets only defeat in their last five PRO12 matches was 12-17 at home to Glasgow in Round Five. The Welshmen have lost just once away from home in the PRO12 this season: 16-23 at the Dragons in Round Three, whilst they have already won in Ireland this season, 24-21 at Connacht on Saturday. Scarlets have beaten Leinster only once in their last dozen encounters in all tournaments since September 2009: 45-20 at Parc y Scarlets in the RO12 in September 2012. The Scarlets only previous victory at the RDS came on their first ever visit to the stadium on 5 October 2007.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Lote Tuqiri, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Shane Jennings (c), 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Martin Moore, 2 Aaron Dundon, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Darragh Fanning.

Scarlets: 15 Gareth Owen, 14 Nick Reynolds, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Nic Reynolds, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 SioneTimani, 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4; Jake Ball, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Phil John (capt).
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Horatiu Pungea, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Jordan Williams.

Date: Saturday 30 November
Venue: RDS, Dublin
Kick-off: 19:15 (local and GMT)
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), Stuart Douglas (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)