Johnny Sexton returns to captain Leinster against Wasps
Seán O’Brien on the bench as Leo Cullen’s side begin Champions Cup defence
Leo Cullen has recalled Johnny Sexton for Friday night’s Champions Cup opener against Wasps. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Heineken Champions Cup Pool One, Leinster v Wasps, RDS Arena (7.45pm kick-off, BT Sport)
Johnny Sexton will captain Leinster as they begin the defence of their Champions Cup crown against Wasps at the RDS.
Sexton was rested for last weekend’s 30-22 Pro14 win over Munster at the Aviva Stadium, but returns to lead a formidable looking XV on Friday night.
There is however no starting spot for Seán O’Brien, who starts among the replacements as Leo Cullen opts for a backrow of Dan Leavy, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan.
Sexton is joined in the halfbacks by Luke McGrath, while Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose resume their partnership in midfield.
Rob Kearney - who earned his 200th Leinster cap in the win over Munster - starts at 15, with Jordan Larmour and James Lowe on the wings.
Last weekend’s man of the match Ross Byrne is on the bench along with Joe Tomane, who could make his European debut for the province if called upon.
Leinster: Rob Kearney; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (C), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Seán Cronin, Tadhg Furlong; Devin Toner, James Ryan; Dan Leavy, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan. Replacements: James Tracy, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Scott Fardy, Seán O’Brien, Nick McCarthy, Ross Byrne, Joe Tomane.
Wasps: Willie Le Roux; Josh Bassett, Juan de Jongh, Michael Le Bourgeois, Elliot Daly (c); Lima Sopoaga, Joe Simpson; Zurabi Zhvania, Tommy Taylor, Kieran Brookes; Will Rowlands, James Gaskell; Brad Shields, Thomas Young, Nizaam Carr. Replacements: Tom Cruse, Ben Harris, Will Stuart, Kearnan Myall, Ashley Johnson, Craig Hampson, Billy Searle, Rob Miller.