Leinster and Munster ring the changes as Jonathan Sexton and CJ Stander return for derby
Published 01/04/2016 | 12:18
Leinster have made nine changes and Munster have gone for five alterations to their starting XVs for tomorrow night's mouthwatering inter-provincial derby at the Aviva (kick-off 5.30).
CJ Stander will captain Munster from number eight and starts for the first time since his stellar Six Nations campaign with Ireland.
The return of James Cronin and Stander are the only two changes to the pack. Cronin will start alongside Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer in the front row with captain Stander coming in to join Dave O'Callaghan and Tommy O'Donnell in the back row.
Donnacha Ryan and Billy Holland remain in situ in the second row.
Three changes across the backline see Conor Murray, Francis Saili and Andrew Conway all return to the starting XV.
Murray partners Johnny Holland in the half-backs with Saili overcoming a bang to the shoulder sustained in training last week to resume his midfield partnership with Rory Scannell.
Consequently Keith Earls makes a positional switch to the wing and joins Conway and full-back Simon Zebo in the back-three. Zebo is drawing ever closer to the 100 cap milestone for the province and will make his 99th appearance this weekend.
There are nine changes and two positional changes in total to the Leinster starting XV that started last weekend against Connacht.
With Zane Kirchner coming in at full back, captain Isa Nacewa moves to the right wing with Dave Kearney also coming back into the equation on the left wing, winning his 98th cap for Leinster.
It is the same midfield combination of Ben Te'o and Garry Ringrose, but there are two new half backs in Eoin Reddan, who lines up against his former club, and Johnny Sexton who returns for his first Guinness PRO12 game since the Ospreys in January.
There are five changes in total in the pack with two of these in the front row as Jack McGrath and Sean Cronin start alongside Tadhg Furlong. Like Reddan, Cronin starts against his former team for whom he played on two occasions before joining Connacht.
Devin Toner comes in to partner Hayden Triggs in the second row, while in the back row Rhys Ruddock is again selected but moves from number eight to blind side flanker. Jordi Murphy comes in at open side to win his 75th Leinster cap while Jamie Heaslip completes the pack from number eight.
Munster team to face Leinster: (15-9) Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Jonathan Holland, Conor Murray; (1-8) James Cronin, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; D0nnacha Ryan, Billy Holland; Dave O'Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell , CJ Stander(c).
Replacements: (16-23) Mike Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Robin Copeland, Jack O’Donoghue, Tomás O’Leary, Ian Keatley, Darren Sweetnam.
Leinster team to face Munster: (15-9) Zane Kirchner; Isa Nacewa, Garry Ringrose, Ben Te'o, Dave Kearney; Johnny Sexton, Eoin Reddan; (1-8) Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong; Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs; Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: (16-23) Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Ross Molony, Josh van der Flier, Luke McGrath, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden.