McFadden and D’Arcy return to face Wasps
Ireland internationals will form midfield partnership for Friday night’s Challenge Cup quarter-final
Fergus McFadden will start against Wasps. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Fergus McFadden and Gordon D’Arcy replace Brendan Macken (broken hand) and Andrew Goodman as the starting midfield, captain, Leo Cullen returns to the secondrow while Sean O’Brien is named at openside flanker.
McFadden has recovered from a rib injury that sidelined him recently, while D’Arcy was a late withdrawal from the Ulster game because of illness. Dave Kearney will win his 50th Leinster cap while outhalf, Ian Madigan reaches the milestone of playing his 75th game for the province in London.
Cullen takes over from Quinn Roux to partner Devin Toner with the South African dropping to the replacements where he is joined by Shane Jennings who gives way to the returning O’Brien. Leinster are without Jonathan Sexton, Luke Fitzgerald, Eoin Reddan while Jack McGrath and Jamie Hagan are on the bench as there is no Heinke van der Merwe or Michael Bent.
Wasps coach Dai Young has made some interesting selection decisions ahead of the match, notably a preference for England underage international Elliott Daly at fullback over Scotland’s Hugo Southwell, Nick Robinson in at outhalf instead of formers Wales and Lions pivot Stephen Jones and naming England secondrow Joe Launchbury at blindside flanker.
Young has also elected to start the corrosive ball carrying number eight Billy Vunipola on the bench alongside former England prop Tim Payne.
The coach admitted: “There’s been a great buzz around the club this week and everyone’s looking forward to testing ourselves against one of the best sides in European rugby. Leinster have been incredibly consistent over the last few years and this is a big challenge for our developing side but one everyone is up for it.”
Wasps: E Daly; C Wade, A Masi, C Bell, T Varndell; N Robinson, J Simpson; Z Taulafo, T Rhys Thomas, P Swainston; T Palmer, M Wentzel; J Launchbury, S Jones, A Johnson. Replacements: T Lindsay, T Payne, W Taylor, J Poff, B Vunipola, C Davies, S Jones, H Southwell.
Leinster: R Kearney; D Kearney, F McFadden, G D'Arcy, I Nacewa; I Madigan, I Boss; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross; L Cullen (capt), D Toner; K McLaughlin, S O’Brien, J Heaslip. Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, J Hagan, Q Roux, S Jennings, J Cooney, A Goodman, A Conway.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)