Preview: Leinster v Wasps

Date published: October 11 2018

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has named a strong starting XV to face Wasps at the RDS Arena on Friday in the opening round of the Champions Cup.

Fly-half Johnny Sexton will captain Leinster as they start the defence of their title and he will form a half-back partnership with Luke McGrath.

Garry Ringrose comes in to start at outside centre while Robbie Henshaw is retained in the number 12 shirt from last weekend’s PRO14 derby win over Munster at Aviva Stadium.

Jordan Larmour comes in to start on the right wing in the only change to the back three from last week.

A new front-row of Cian Healy, Seán Cronin and Tadhg Furlong will start Friday’s European opener. Devin Toner and James Ryan will once again start in the second-row for the champions.

In the back-row, Dan Leavy moves from openside to blindside, Josh van der Flier comes in to start, and Jack Conan is named at number eight.

Joe Tomane is named among the replacements and could make his European debut for the province if called upon.

Meanwhile, Brad Shields, Lima Sopoaga and Willie le Roux are restored to the Wasps starting line-up for this encounter.

Shields recovers from a cheekbone injury to start in the back-row alongside Nizaam Carr and Thomas Young – the latter of whom makes his first start of the 2018/19 campaign after returning from injury last weekend. Nathan Hughes misses out through suspension.

Sopoaga is fit to play after a neck spasm while Le Roux returns from Rugby Championship duty despite going off with an HIA assessment last weekend – but has passed the return-to-play protocol to be fit for Friday’s clash.

Joe Simpson is recalled at scrum-half to start in place of Dan Robson, who is out for approximately three months with an ankle injury, while Michael Le Bourgeois is added to the centres to partner Juan de Jongh.

Skipper Elliot Daly moves to the wing in place of Christian Wade (illness) and joins Josh Bassett and Le Roux in the back three.

Georgian prop Zurabi Zhvania is handed a starting spot in the front-row next to Tommy Taylor and Kieran Brookes while Will Rowlands and James Gaskell get the nod in the second-row.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Dan Leavy, 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements:
16 James Tracy, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Scott Fardy, 20 Seán O’Brien, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Joe Tomane

Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Josh Bassett, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Elliot Daly (c), 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements:
16 Tom Cruse, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 Craig Hampson, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Rob Miller

Date: Friday, October 12
Venue: RDS Arena, Dublin
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon (France), Stéphane Boyer (France)
Television match official: Denis Grenouillet (France)