Zane Kirchner to make first Leinster start against Dragons

Coach Matt O’Connor makes 11 changes from victory over Connacht

Zane Kirchner will make his first start for Leinster at fullback away to the Dragons. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Zane Kirchner will make his first start for Leinster at fullback away to the Dragons. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho


South Africa international Zane Kirchner will make his first start in Leinster’s RaboDirect Pro12 clash away Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday night (7.05pm).

Kirchner replaced Rob Kearney for the last nine minutes of last weekend’s victory over Connacht at the RDS and will start at fullback for the game in Wales before he joins the Springboks for the autumn internationals.

In total Matt O’Connor has made 11 changes and a positional switch from the victory over Connacht.

Kirchner forms a new back three with Darragh Fanning on the right wing and Lote Tuqiri coming in on the left after recovering from the hamstring injury he picked up against Munster at the start of the month.

The centre partnership of Luke Fitzgerald and Noel Reid remain, with Jimmy Gopperth and John Cooney forming a new halfback partnership.

There are six changes in the pack, with Michael Bent and Quinn Roux remaining from last week.

Bent moves across to loosehead, with Martin Moore coming in at tighthead and Aaron Dundon at hooker.

Tom Denton replaces Devin Toner in the secondrow, while there is a new backrow in Dominic Ryan, Rhys Ruddock and Shane Jennings, who will captain the side from the openside position.

The Dragons have made eight changes from the side that lost 40-17 to the Ospreys in their last game out, with outside centre Pat Leach returning to the side after almost seven weeks out with an elbow injury.

The back five also sees a change at fullback with Hallam Amos moving from the wing and Adam Hughes and Tom Prydie on the wings. After recovering from concussion Jason Tovey returns at outhalf and Richie Rees keeps his place at scrumhalf.

The frontrow remains the same as last week but the Welsh side have a new secondrow with Matthew Screech partnering Adam Jones. The only change in the backrow sees Netani Talei come in at number eight.

DRAGONS: Hallam Amos; Tom Prydie, Pat Leach, Ross Wardle, Adam Hughes; Jason Tovey, Richie Rees; Owen Evans, Sam Parry, Dan Way; Adam Jones, Matthew Screech; Jevon Groves, Lewis Evans (capt), Netani Talei. Replacements: Hugh Gustafson, Nathan Williams, Francisco Chaparro, Rob Sidoli, Ieuan Jones, Jonathan Evans, Kris Burton, Dan Evans.

LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Darragh Fanning, Luke Fitzgerald, Noel Reid, Lote Tuqiri; Jimmy Gopperth, John Cooney; Michael Bent, Aaron Dundon, Martin Moore; Quinn Roux, Tom Denton; Dominic Ryan, Shane Jennings (capt), Rhys Ruddock. Replacements: James Tracy, Jack O’Connell, Tadhg Furlong, Ben Marshall, Leo Auva’a, Luke McGrath, Cathal Marsh, Brendan Macken.

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