Preview: Leinster v Wasps

Date published: November 13 2015

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has announced his first Champions Cup squad ahead of Sunday's game against Wasps in the RDS Arena.

Cullen has made nine changes to his starting XV from the Scarlets game as Leinster take their first steps in Pool 5 of the Champions Cup.

Isa Nacewa is back to captain the side from full-back. The Auckland native last played in European competition in the final of the Challenge Cup against Stade Francais at the end of the 2012/2013 season. Zane Kirchner continues on the right wing with Dave Kearney coming in on the left to complete the back three.

Noel Reid and Fergus McFadden form a new look centre partnership. Reid has played in all of Leinster's games so far this season and also started the corresponding fixture last season from 12, while McFadden also has experience of playing 13 against Wasps having played there in the 2013 Challenge Cup quarter-final. 

In the half-backs Eoin Reddan gets the nod to start at scrum-half against his former club with whom he won a Heineken Cup in 2007 and an English Premiership title in 2008. Johnny Sexton makes his first RDS start since returning from Racing 92 at fly-half.

Only Mike Ross is retained in the front row at tight head having scored only his second try for Leinster in last week's win over the Scarlets. His only previous try came against Wasps in that 2013 quarter-final in Adams Park. Jack McGrath and Richardt Strauss complete the front row at loose head and hooker. McGrath wins his 80th Leinster cap on Sunday. 

Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy form an experienced second row with over 450 professional club appearances between them. McCarthy started out his professional career with Wasps and made six appearances in total before moving to Connacht.

In the back row Jordi Murphy and Sean O'Brien are selected at blindside and openside flanker, while Jamie Heaslip will make his 75th Champions Cup appearance when he lines out at the base of the scrum.

On the bench Hayden Triggs is in line to make his European debut as is former World Rugby U20 Player of the Year nominee, Garry Ringrose. 

Meanwhile, Wasps’ co-captain Matt Mullan will skipper the side, while James Haskell misses out on the first European round due to a knee injury.

Sam Jones comes into the starting line-up at blindside flanker, alongside Nathan Hughes and George Smith.

The second row partnership again features England international Joe Launchbury and Wales international Bradley Davies, while in the front row, Jake Cooper-Woolley returns to the starting line up at tighthead in place of Lorenzo Cittadini.

Wasps’ backline is unchanged from last Sunday’s win over Gloucester. All Blacks Charles Piutau and Frank Halai will make their European debuts on Sunday, while fly-half Ruaridh Jackson and replacement scrum-half Dan Robson both start.

Wasps’ director of rugby Dai Young said: “You can tell how much excitement there is in the squad about Europe starting. This will be some of our new signings’ first taste of the European Cup and those of us who have been part of it over the years, know the special occasion that awaits them in Dublin."

Form: There have been two wins each and one draw between these sides in the Champions Cup. However Leinster hold the edge over Wasps in the pool stages of the competition losing just one of the four pool games contested between the sides (W2, D1). Leinster have lost just two of their last 14 pool games in the Champions Cup (W11, D1). Wasps have earned just one victory in their last five clashes against Irish clubs (D1, L3), though they had won eight of the 10 matches prior to that. Wasps are aiming to win three consecutive away games in the pool stages for the first time since 2007.

The teams:

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

Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 Sam Jones, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan (c).
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau

Date: Sunday, November 15
Venue: RDS Arena
Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Cyril Lafon (France), Thomas Déjean (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)