Ireland stars return for Leinster against Montpellier

Johnny Sexton and James Ryan are options off the bench in Champions Cup opener

Robbie Henshaw starts for Leinster against Montpellier on Saturday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Robbie Henshaw starts for Leinster against Montpellier on Saturday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Champions Cup Pool A: Leinster v Montpellier, Saturday December 12th, CGL Stadium (kick-off 5.30pm, BT Sport)

Leo Cullen has welcomed back a host of Ireland internationals as Leinster begin their Champions Cup campaign away to Montpellier on Saturday evening.

Hugo Keenan, who was one of Ireland’s standout performers during the autumn internationals, returns on the right wing and he is joined in the back three by Dave Kearney and European debutant Jimmy O’Brien.

Robbie Henshaw lines out in midfield on his 50th Leinster appearance alongside Ciarán Frawley, who is also making his first European start.

In the halfbacks Luke McGrath, who was ignored by Ireland boss Andy Farrell during the autumn, takes the number nine jersey with Ross Byrne outside him at 10.

Peter Dooley, James Tracy and Michael Bent have been named in the frontrow, with Devin Toner and Scott Fardy adding ballast in the engine room.

The excellent Caelan Doris returns at number eight, with Rhys Ruddock and Josh van der Flier at flanker.

Leinster have plenty of game changers on an impressive bench - with Johnny Sexton and James Ryan among the replacements.

Leinster: Jimmy O’Brien; Hugo Keenan, Robbie Henshaw, Ciarán Frawley, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Peter Dooley, James Tracy, Michael Bent; Devin Toner, Scott Fardy; Rhys Ruddock (capt), Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris. Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Ryan Baird, Jamison Gibson-Park, Johnny Sexton, Dan Leavy.

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