Leinster unchanged from Bath while Halfpenny fit for Toulon
Matt O’Connor goes with the same line-up as the quarter-final for Stade Velodrome clash
Sean O’Brien returns to the Leinster starting line-up for Sunday’s Champions Cup semi-final against Toulon. Photograph: Inpho
Leinster’s second row options have been further depleted by injury to Tom Denton. The Englishman’s bicep strain sees his place on the bench for Sunday’s Champions Cup semi-final against Toulon in Marseille go to Ben Marshall.
Australian international Kane Douglas was this week ruled out for the reminder of the season as he requires back surgery.
It’s already been confirmed that Marshall will not be receiving a new contract so the 24 year old leaves the province this summer as Mick Kearney returns from Connacht.
Marshall for Denton is the only change from the squad Matt O’Connor picked for the quarter-final victory over Bath.
Fergus McFadden returns to the right wing, having passed concussion protocols, while Springbok Zane Kirchner is again preferred on the bench ahead of Ireland international Dave Kearney.
Meanwhile, Leigh Halfpenny has recovered from a shoulder injury, sustained against Grenoble last weekend, to start at fullback. The Welsh international is expected to relieve Freddie Michalak of place kicking duties despite the flawless 22 points posted by the French outhalf in the quarter-final defeat of Wasps.
Steffon Armitage is named on the bench as Toulon coach Bernard Laporte names an international backrow of Juan Smith (South Africa), Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Argentina) and Chris Masoe (New Zealand).
Georgia flanker Mamuka Gorgodze misses out entirely.
Toulon are 1/7 to win, Leinster are priced at 9/2 or 10/11 with a minus 11 handicap.
LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Ian Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Seán Cronin, Mike Ross; Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy; Jordi Murphy, Seán O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
TOULON: Leigh Halfpenny; Delon Armitage, Mathieu Bastareaud, Matt Giteau, Bryan Habana; Frederic Michalak, Sébastien Tillous-Borde; Xavier Chiocci, Guilhem Guirado, Carl Hayman; Bakkies Botha, Ali Williams; Juan Smith, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Chris Masoe.
Replacements: Jean-Charles Orioli, Alexandre Menini, Levan Chilachava, Steffon Armitage, Drew Mitchell, Rudi Wulf, Michael Claassens, Jocelino Suta.