Preview: Leinster v Ulster

Date published: November 26 2015

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Zane Kirchner will make his 50th Leinster appearance when he starts for the province in Friday's match against Ulster in the PRO12.

Kirchner, who represented South Africa at this year's World Cup, made his first appearance for Leinster in a 16-13 win over Connacht at the RDS Arena in October 2013.

He starts on the wing for Leinster in Friday's interprovincial clash with Ulster.

Rob Kearney returns to start at full-back for the first time since the home win over Scarlets earlier this month, with Luke Fitzgerald named on the left wing.

In a change to the half-back pairing from last weekend Luke McGrath comes in at scrum-half to partner Johnny Sexton in place of Isaac Boss.

There are four changes to Leinster's front eight from the defeat to Bath: Jack McGrath replaces Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong starts after featuring for Leinster 'A' last week, Mike McCarthy comes in to replace Hayden Triggs, and Josh van der Flier starts in the back row after his try-scoring debut in the Champions Cup.

Meanwhile, Ruan Pienaar will make his 100th appearance for Ulster.

Director of Rugby, Les Kiss, continues to manage his squad and he has introduced four new faces to his starting team for the PRO12 clash; Kyle McCall, Robbie Diack and Sean Reidy are included in the pack and Peter Nelson is named at full-back.

Pienaar will play his landmark game alongside Paddy Jackson at half-back, with Stuart McCloskey and Darren Cave continuing their midfield partnership. Nelson is joined in the back three by Craig Gilroy and Andrew Trimble.

Iain Henderson will start at lock for Ulster for the first time this season, following his appearance in the back row last weekend. He will combine with fellow Ireland international Dan Tuohy in the second row, with Franco van der Merwe earning a break.

McCall will have captain Rory Best and Wiehahn Herbst beside him in the front row, while the loose forward trio is made up of Diack, Reidy and number eight Nick Williams.

Form: Leinster's only defeat in their last six PRO12 encounters was 14-25 away to Scarlets in Round 4, a run which has seen them climb six places in the table. Leinster have lost only one home game in their last 12 in the tournament – to Newport Gwent Dragons at the RDS Arena in February. Ulster's seven games in the PRO12 this season have ended in a uniformed sequence of WLWLWLW. Ulster beat Dragons 19-12 at Rodney Parade in Round 7 but have not won successive away games in the tournament since February. Ulster's 26-10 victory in Belfast in April ended a five game losing run to Leinster however the Ulsterman have beaten their hosts just once in Dublin since 1999: 22-18 at the RDS Arena in March 2013.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Zane Kirchner, 13 Ben Te'o, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Garry Ringrose 

Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Kyle McCall
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Roger Wilson, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Louis Ludik

Date: Friday, November 27
Venue: RDS Arena
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Andy Brace, Olly Hodges (both IRFU)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (IRFU)

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