Boost for Leinster as Henshaw and Toner return for Glasgow test

Scottish outfit playing for the substantial prize of a home semi-final

Robbie Henshaw: returns to the Leinster starting team for the game against Glasgow at the RDS. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Leinster v Glasgow, RDS Arena, Dublin, Saturday, 3pm. (Live on eir Sport 1)

Ulster having rooted for Leinster last week, it will be Munster’s turn today, albeit the champions won’t be feeling the provincial love next Saturday at the Kingspan.

Nor today from a Glasgow team seeking to stave off Munster in Conference A and thus emulate Leinster in bypassing the quarter-finals and securing a home semi-final. The Warriors also have the carrot of a final at Celtic Park on May 25th, which the bookies favour to be a reprise of this clash.

After accumulating 29 points in their last six Pro14 games, Glasgow call up lock Scott Cummings and loosehead prop Jamie Bhatti to the team which beat Ulster 30-7.

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But, aside from pride being the spur, Leinster are seeking to complete an unbeaten Pro14 home record and generate winning momentum for next week’s Champions Cup semi-final against Toulouse.

Leo Cullen gives some front-liners game time in making 13 changes. A major boost is the return of Robbie Henshaw and Devin Toner for their first outing since Ireland’s defeat to England, and alongside Toner 20-year-old academy lock Jack Dunne makes his full debut.

Replacement Will Connors, their 23-year-old backrow who injured his ACL against Newcastle in pre-season, will become Leinster’s 56th player this season.

Cullen also seemed upbeat about Johnny Sexton’s expected return next week.

“Johnny is good to go. He’s trained well the last couple of days. He is in good spirits. He looked good today. He looked good yesterday,” said the coach.

Seán O’Brien captains the side for the last time, in what will presumably be his penultimate RDS appearance given there’s a home semi-final to come. He admitted he’d be lying if he said such considerations hadn’t crossed his mind, but he was keener to see the bigger picture.

“They [Glasgow] talk about being physical and brutal every week. We spoke about that element of their game this week and how we deal with that,” said O’Brien, who was speaking at the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland, one of Leinster’s charity partners, in Rathgar.

“Our motivation comes from making sure we play as best we can and looking forward, there’s a lot of younger lads playing in the team and making sure that they’re playing a good brand of rugby, and the way we want to play leading in to next week. We can’t have a big dip. It doesn’t just happen when you get to Europe. So it’s about going out and putting in a performance that we can be really proud of.”

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Jordan Lamour, Joe Tomane, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Ed Byrne, James Tracy, Michael Bent; Devin Toner, Jack Dunne; Josh Murphy, Seán O'Brien (capt), Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Seán Cronin, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Will Connors, Max Deegan, Hugh O'Sullivan, Ciarán Frawley, Adam Byrne.

GLASGOW WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Kyle Steyn, Sam Johnson, Niko Matawalu; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson; Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray; Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro (capt), Matt Fagerson.

Replacements: Grant Stewart, Alex Allan, D'Arcy Rae, Bruce Flockhart, Adam Ashe, George Horne, Pete Horne, Huw Jones

Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)

Forecast: Leinster to win.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times