Planet Rugby

Preview: Leinster v Zebre

20th March 2014 10:17

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fergus mcfadden leinster

At 13: Fergus McFadden

Leinster return to the RDS on Friday after a break of three weeks to welcome Zebre in Round 17 of the RaboDirect Pro12.

Coach Matt O'Connor has named an experienced side and has 11 full test internationals in his starting 15 with another three held in reserve on the bench.

There are two changes to the back line that played against the Glasgow Warriors three weeks ago with Isaac Boss coming in at scrum-half and Eoin Reddan held in reserve after his exploits in Paris last weekend.

Luke Fitzgerald also makes a welcome return having been close to starting on a number of occasions in the last few months.

Beside Boss, is birthday boy and the latest member of the 100 cap club, Ian Madigan, who will celebrate on the double in the RDS. Madigan, who made his Leinster debut in May 2009 against the Newport Gwent Dragons, has 446 points to his credit in that time, which includes 19 tries in all competitions.

There is a completely new front row selected with Michael Bent, Richardt Strauss and Tadhg Furlong on from the start. Sean Cronin and Jack McGrath have failed to shake off the minor knocks they picked up against France last weekend, while Marty Moore is available from the bench.

Leo Cullen captains the side from the second row, with Mike McCarthy beside him while in the back row Kevin McLaughlin is back after the injury sustained away to the Cardiff Blues, with Dominic Ryan at seven and Jordi Murphy at number eight.

Leinster played Zebre as recently as February in Parma where they recorded a 8 - 31 bonus point victory, while in the corresponding fixture last year Leinster won 37 - 7 in front of nearly 16,000 in the RDS.

Meanwhile, Italy lock Marco Bortolami will captain Zebre for their visit to Dublin.

Giovanbattista Vendetti starts at outside centre with former Chiefs number Brendon Leonard at scrum-half.

Italian international trio Quentin Geldenhuys, Luciano Orquera and Leonardo Sarto are all rested.

Form: Leinster have won their last eight matches in all competitions whilst in the PRO12 they have been defeated only once since round five: 6-11 at Edinburgh on 20th December.

The Leinstermen are unbeaten at the RDS in any competition since Ulster were the visitors in the PRO12 on 30th March 2013.

Zebre achieved their third victory of the season in their last contest at home to Cardiff Blues and are now attempting to record back to back victories for the first time.

Leinster have won all three previous contests between the two sides.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Issac Boss, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Michael Bent
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Brendan Macken

Zebre: 15 David Odiete, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Giovanbattista Vendetti, 12 Kameli Ratavou, 11 Dion Berryman, 10 Tommaso Iannone, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 George Biagi, 3 David Ryan, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Salvatore Perugini
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Andrea de Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Michael van Vuuren, 20 Gugliemo Palazzani, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Emiliano Caffani, 23 Fillipo Cristiano

Date: Friday 21st March
Venue: RDS
Kick-off: 1915 (local & GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Ita)
Assistant referees: Kieran Barry, Andy Brace (both Ire)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ire)

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