Wednesday 25 April 2018

Madigan returns at outhalf as Kirchner starts on the bench for Leinster

Leinster's Ian Madigan
Leinster's Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan will be given a chance to impress in the number 10 shirt of Leinster after being named in Matt O'Connor's starting XV for tomorrow night's clash with Connacht at the RDS but there is no place for Springbok Zane Kirchner.

Eoin Reddan comes in at scrum-half to partner Madigan while Noel Reid and Luke Fitzgerald form a new centre partnership.

Michael Bent will make his first start this season in a front row which includes Sean Cronin and Ireland call-up Jack McGrath.

There are no changes in the back-row from last weekend's narrow victory over Castres with Jamie Heaslip captaining the side from number eight alongside Sean O'Brien and Kevin McLaughlin.

Shane Jennings has recovered from injury to take his place on a strong-looking replacements bench which includes the likes of Isaac Boss, Jimmy Gopperth, Mike McCarthy and South African international Zane Kirchner for the first time since his recent arrival.

Connacht boss Pat Lam has made three changes to the team that defeated Zebres in the Heineken Cup last weekend for the game.

Tiernan O'Halloran and Gavin Duffy replace the injured pair of Danie Poolman and James So’oialo while last weekend's tryscorer Mata Fifita comes in for Andrew Browne in the back row.

Speaking about his team selection Lam admitted: “It’s been a pretty disruptive week with injuries and we’ve lost more players with none coming back into the frame.

"So once again, we’ve had to dig deep into our resources. With James and Danie injured in the backs, we’ve lost our cover at outside centre.

“Darragh Leader comes on to the bench after impressing for the Eagles last weekend. He’s been a big part of our training squad in recent weeks. Up front, Mata replaces Andrew Browne at six. Browney was unable to train fully this week due to a few knocks he picked up in the last game. But thankfully, with all the injuries we have to the back row, he recovered sufficiently to take his place on the bench.

“Dave Heffernan comes in as cover for hooker and this is a huge opportunity for him to make his mark. Coming up against Leinster at the RDS - it doesn’t get much bigger than that. The current Rabo champions, they’ve been consistently the best team in Europe for the last number of years.

“But these are the type of games you relish and we can’t wait for the challenge. We have trained well on the back of a good win in the Heineken Cup and of course we have a plan to execute in order to give us the best opportunity to beat this team.”

Leinster: (15-9) R Kearney; F McFadden, L Fitzgerald, N Reid, D Kearney; I Madigan, E Reddan; (1-8) J McGrath, S Cronin, M Bent; D Toner, Q Roux; K McLaughlin, S O’Brien, J Heaslip (capt).

Replacements: (16-23) A Dundon, J O’Connell, M Moore, M McCarthy, S Jennings, I Boss, J Gopperth, Z Kirchner.

Connacht: (15-9) G Duffy; T O’Halloran, R Henshaw, C Ronaldson, M Healy; D Parks, K Marmion; (1-8)  B Wilkinson, S Henry, R Ah You; M Swift (capt), C Clarke; M Fifita, J Heenan, G Naoupu.

Replacements: (16-23) D Heffernan, JP Cooney, R Loughney, A Muldowney, A Browne, P O’Donohue, D Leader, F Carr.

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