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Preview: Leinster v Munster

05th October 2012 12:59

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Brian O Driscoll Leinster

Timely return: Brian O'Driscoll

Leinster are boosted by the return of talismanic centre Brian O'Driscoll for their RaboDirect PRO12 derby with Munster at Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

He is joined in midfield by Fergus McFadden, with the returning Eoin Reddan - who is set to make his 67th Leinster appearance - partnering his Ireland colleague Jonathan Sexton at half-back.

Jamie Heaslip leads the team on his 150th game for the side and the eight is joined in the back-row by Shane Jennings and Kevin McLaughlin.

With Cian Healy unavailable this weekend due to a bicep strain, South African Heinke van der Merwe continues in the front row alongside Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross who is in line to make his 70th Leinster appearance.

Meanwhile, Munster coach Rob Penney has made six changes from the side that started against Ospreys. All those changes come up front, three involve players who were on the bench last weekend and injury to Niall Ronan (groin) and Marcus Horan (eye) were other considerations.

The backline remains the same with skipper Doug Howlett leading the side out to win his 100th competitive Munster cap.

Ronan picked up a slight groin injury in training while Horan continues to recover from a cut under the eye that he received in a club game. That means a start for Dave Kilcoyne ahead of Wian du Preez who is named on the bench, a situation that pertained in the Scarlets game when the 23-year-old impressed before being replaced by the South African.

Donnacha Ryan and Peter O'Mahony return to the XV for the first time this term while Dave O'Callaghan is in the blindside role he operated from against Treviso, Ulster and Dragons.

Form: Leinster suffered their largest PRO12 defeat for almost five years at Connacht on Friday, however Leinster have not lost successive encounters against the fellow Irish provinces since 2008/09. The Leinstermen have a 100% winning record in their 11 previous PRO12 matches at Aviva Stadium. Munster's last four matches have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst their only victory on the road in their last five games came at Edinburgh in round one. Munster have lost on their last three visits to Aviva Stadium. Leinster have won seven of their last nine meetings with Munster in all competitions.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Ian Madigan, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Fergus McFadden, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (capt), 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Damian Browne, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Fionn Carr.

Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Doug Howlett (capt), 13 Keith Earls, 12 Casey Laulala, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Peter O'Mahony, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Peter Butler, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 James Downey.

Date: Saturday, October 6
Kick-off: 18:30 BST
Venue: Aviva Stadium
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Television match official: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)
Assessor: Jack Sheehan (Ireland)

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1Munster623
2Gloucester614
3Edinburgh612
4Perpignan67