Rabodirect Pro12 team news: Leinster make seven changes, Ulster injury-ravaged, Connacht unchanged
The teams for Leinster's trip to the Ospreys and the provincial derby between Connacht and Ulster have been released.
Leinster have made seven changes to the team that was defeated by Toulon last Sunday in the Heineken Cup quarter-final for their trip to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea tomorrow night.
The only serious injury was to Fergus McFadden who limped off in the first half in the Stade Felix Mayol.
McFadden's Fergus' knee injury is not as bad as initially thought and the medial strain suffered is likely to keep him out for a few weeks at most. Zane Kirchner, who replaced him on Sunday, also replaces him here from the start.
Noel Reid and Isaac Boss come in for Brian O'Driscoll and Eoin Reddan in the only other changes to the back division. D'Arcy moves to 13.
There are four changes to the pack with Sean Cronin, Martin Moore, Leo Cullen and Kevin McLaughlin coming in from the start.
Cian Healy starts for the second week in a row having recovered from an ankle injury with Sean Cronin and Martin Moore beside him. Leo Cullen captains the side from the second row with Mike McCarthy locking down beside him. McLaughlin, Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip complete the eight.
Leinster: (15-9) R Kearney; Z Kirchner, G D’Arcy, N Reid, D Kearney; J Gopperth, I Boss; (1-8) C Healy, S Cronin, M Moore; L Cullen (capt), M McCarthy; K McLaughlin, S Jennings, J Heaslip.
Replacements: (16-23) A Dundon, M Bent, M Ross, D Toner, J Murphy, L McGrath, C O’Shea, D Fanning.
Connacht head coach Pat Lam names an unchanged side for the fourth consecutive game for their clash with provincial rivals Ulster at Ravenhill.
The only change on the bench comes in the forwards with Academy prop Finlay Bealham replacing an injured Nathan White. Connacht’s longest serving player Michael Swift is in line to earn his 180th league appearance.
Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game Head Coach Pat Lam said: “When you consider the front liners we’ve been missing these last few months – Wilkinson, Henry, White, Clarke, Faloon and Heenan – the guys who’ve played in the last five games have put in an outstanding effort and the performances have shown that. And so we go up to Belfast with the same group of guys.
“Willie Faloon made an impressive return from injury and we were planning to give him a start this week but he pulled up with a tight hamstring in the last training run yesterday. It’s unfortunate but we don’t want to risk him so soon after his return. We’ll hopefully see him next week at the Sportsground.
“Young Eoghan Masterson from the Academy will get his sixth start at openside where he is playing out of position but showing time and time again his ability to adapt and slot in to an experienced back row.
“Nathan White also pulled up with a calf injury so we’re traveling with Academy prop Finlay Bealham this week who has impressed in training and the two games he’s been called upon for.
“Ulster have of course suffered some injuries to their front liners as well but they have such strength in depth with the option to replace one international with another and we don’t anticipate any dip in performance.
“They are a well-coached side and last week they put in a magnificent effort against Saracens with 14 men for 75 minutes. But what that performance showed is the quality they have and the team spirit they possess. No doubt it has been a hard week for them but we are under no illusions. We expect them to come out even stronger with the passionate Ravenhill crowd behind them.
“We haven’t won at Ravenhill in 54 year so this is our chance to make history. We know it’s going to take a massive team effort tomorrow night but it’s exciting. This is what we play rugby for, to go up against it and beat the odds.”
Connacht: (15-9) Robbie Henshaw; Tiernan O’Halloran, Eoin Griffin, Dave McSharry, Fionn Carr; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; (1-8) Denis Buckley, Jason Harris-Wright, Rodney Ah You; Aly Muldowney, Mick Kearney; John Muldoon (capt.), Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: (16-23) Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, Finlay Bealham, Michael Swift, Andrew Browne, Frank Murphy, Miah Nikora, Darragh Leader.
Injury-ravaged Ulster will give Tommy Bowe a chance to impress at outside centre when Connacht travel to Ravenhill tomorrow night.
Luke Marshall will make his 50th appearance for Ulster alongside Bowe.
Andrew Trimble who suffered concussion against Saracens, has followed the necessary return to play protocols, and starts the game on the right wing.
Paul Marshall is selected at scrumhalf alongside Paddy Jackson.
Up front, Andrew Warwick makes his first start for Ulster with Rob Herring named at hooker and Ricky Lutton selected at tighthead.
Captain, Johann Muller, is joined by Iain Henderson in the second row.
Robbie Diack starts at blindside with Nick Williams selected at Number 8 and Chris Henry continuing at openside.
Ulster: (15-9)Ricky Andrew; Andrew Trimble, Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; (1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Ricky Lutton; Johann Muller (capt.), Iain Henderson; Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Nick Williams.
Replacements: (16-23) Niall Annett, Tom Court, Adam Macklin, Lewis Stevenson, Sean Doyle, Michael Heaney, James McKinney, Stuart McCloskey.