Preview: Leinster v Zebre

Date published: February 11 2016

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Leinster boss Leo Cullen has made five changes to his starting XV for Friday's PRO12 clash with Zebre at the RDS Arena.

In the pack Cian Healy and Mike Ross return from hamstring and knee injuries respectively to prop down alongside James Tracy, with Ross Molony and Hayden Triggs continuing in the second row. 

The back row sees Josh van der Flier return from Ireland camp at open side flanker with Dominic Ryan and Jordi Murphy again selected at blind side and number eight. 

In the backs Isa Nacewa returns from a knee injury to captain the side form the left wing with Adam Byrne again starting on the right and Zane Kirchner selected at full back.

Ben Te'o and Garry Ringrose continue in midfield with Isaac Boss partnering Cathal Marsh in the half backs. 

Leo Cullen and the returning captain Isa Nacewa will address media later on today in the Centre for Cardiac Risk in Younger Persons in Tallaght Hospital to promote the work of the Leinster Rugby charity partner, Cardiac Risk in the Young (www.cry.ie).

Meanwhile, Zebre boss Gianluca Guidi has made four changes to his run-on side after their 16-12 defeat against Munster two weeks ago.

In the backline, Kayle Van Zyl moves to the left wing from full-back, where he replaces Michele Visentin, while Ulrich Beyers will wear the number 15 jersey.

And Maicol Azzolini takes over from Kelly Haimona at fly-half.

Up front, props Guillermo Roan and Bruno Postiglioni replace Pietro Ceccarelli and Andrea De Marchi respectively.

Form: Leinster have slipped to back-to-back defeats at Wasps in the Champions Cup and at Newport Gwent Dragons in the PRO12. The Leinstermen are unbeaten in their last nine PRO12 encounters at the RDS Arena since Dragons beat them there on 15 February 2015. Zebre have won four PRO12 matches this season, against Edinburgh and Cardiff Blues in October and home and away to Treviso over Christmas and the New Year. The Italians have also won their last two away games – against Treviso and at Worcester in the European Challenge Cup. Leinster have won all six previous encounters they have played against Zebre, achieving a try bonus on five occasions with the "closest" winning margin being 17 points in their 20-3 victory in Parma in October 2014. 

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ben Te'o, 11 Isa Nacewa (c), 10 Cathal Marsh, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Dominic Ryan, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Mike Ross, 2 James Tracy, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Michael Bent,) 19 Tom Denton, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Cian Kelleher

Zebre: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Dion Berryman, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Kayle Van Zyl, 10 Maicol Azzolini, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Emiliano Caffini, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Guillermo Roan, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Bruno Postiglioni. 
Replacements: 16 Emiliano Coria, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Giulio Toniolatti, 22 Mils Muliaina, 23 Abou Souare

Date: Friday, February 12
Venue: RDS Arena, Dublin
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Mark Connolly (Ireland)
TMO: John Cole (Ireland)

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