Preview: Leinster v Munster

Date published: October 4 2014

Leinster coach Matt O’Connor has made three changes to his starting line-up that will face Munster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor has made three changes to his starting line-up that will face Munster at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.

All of the changes are in the forwards with Jack McGrath and Mike Ross starting for their 65th and 112th Leinster appearance respectively. Sean Cronin will start his fifth Guinness PRO12 match in a row at hooker, the Limerick man facing his former club for whom he made two appearances.

The final change is in the second-row with Mike McCarthy coming in to partner Devin Toner. Kane Douglas is named amongst the replacements.

The back-row once again contains Rhys Ruddock, who scored a try last week against the Blues, Dominic Ryan and captain Jamie Heaslip.

There are no changes from last Friday’s selection in the backs with Gordon D’Arcy again selected at 13, with Ian Madigan inside him. Saturday’s game will be cap number 243 for the Wexford man.

Rob Kearney starts from full-back, while Darragh Fanning and Fergus McFadden continue on the left and right wing respectively.

Eoin Reddan and Jimmy Gopperth start at 9 and 10, with Isaac Boss named on the bench having returned from the injury sustained before the Connacht game.

Meanwhile, Munster head coach Anthony Foley has named Peter O’Mahony and Damien Varley in his 23-man squad to face their rivals.

Foley has made a total of eight changes to the starting line-up that faced the Ospreys last weekend in Thomond Park, and in the replacements there is a welcome return for Munster’s squad captain O’Mahony and Varley.

Having successfully rehabbed from a double shoulder procedure squad captain O’Mahony returns to a match-day squad for the first time since the Heineken Cup quarter final against Toulouse in April. While hooker Varley is also included after rehabbing an ongoing foot injury and he is line to make his first appearance of the season.

In the front-row James Cronin and Stephen Archer come in at loosehead and tighthead respectively, while Duncan Casey makes his fourth consecutive start at hooker.

Dave Foley also returns to the line-up and partners Paul O’Connell in the second-row.

The back-row sees CJ Stander make the positional switch to blindside this week and he is joined by Tommy O’Donnell on the opposite flank and number eight Robin Copeland who features in his first PRO12 Interpo derby encounter.

In the half-backs, Conor Murray and Ian Keatley remain in situ from last week while Denis Hurley resumes his centre partnership with Andrew Smith who is promoted from the bench.

Andrew Conway retains his place and is joined by Simon Zebo and Felix Jones in the back three.

Form: All four of Leinster’s Guinness PRO12 matches this season have been won by the home side on the day, whilst they have a perfect played 13, won 13 record at Lansdowne Road/Aviva Stadium in the history of the PRO12. Munster have a won two, lost two record in the Guinness PRO12 this season despite playing three of the four games at Thomond Park. The Munstermen have won their last three regular season away games in the tournament. Munster have lost on their last five visits to the Aviva Stadium (all against Leinster and all in the PRO12) since beating their fiercest rivals there in the semi-final of the European Cup in April 2006. Munster’s only victory over Leinster since the 2011 final came in Limerick in round 5 last season. The Munstermen have not won a game in Dublin since a visit to the RDS Arena in the PRO12 in September 2008.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Gordon D’Arcy, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Darragh Fanning, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (capt), 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Steve Crosbie, 23 Mick McGrath.

Munster: 15 Felix Jones (capt), 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Gerhard van den Heever.

Date: Saturday, October 4
Kick-off: 18:30 BST
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 20th competition game)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Mark Patton (both IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: John West (IRFU)
TMO: Simon McDowell