Madigan named at outhalf for Leinster

Springbok Kirchner is among the replacements while Connacht makes three changes from last week

 Ian Madigan and Shane Jennings in training. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Ian Madigan and Shane Jennings in training. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Leinster coach Matt O’Connor has opted to freshen up the team for tomorrow’s visit of Connacht to the RDS (6.45) for the RaboDirect Pro12 clash.

Luke Fitzgerald, partners Noel Reid in the centre, while Ian Madigan starts at outhalf and will be joined at halfback by Eoin Reddan. Michael Bent makes a first start of the season having come on in the victory over Castres, while Jack McGrath is also promoted to the run-on team after his try scoring exploits last weekend.

Quinn Roux is named alongside Devin Toner on the bench, while among the replacements are a fit again Shane Jennings and Springbok international Zane Kirchner who will wear the Leinster colours for the first time.

Connacht’s Pat Lam makes three alterations to the side that beat Zebre in Italy last week. Danie Poolman, who was forced to withdraw late this week due to a tight hamstring, is replaced on the right wing by Tiernan O’Halloran.

Mayo-man Gavin Duffy returns to full back, replacing the injured James So’oialo. Up front, Andrew Browne moves to the bench and makes way for last week’s try scorer Mata Fifita at blindside flanker.

On the bench, hooker Dave Heffernan is in line to make his first senior appearance. Utility back Darragh Leader is another addition to the match day squad. The 20-year-old from Galway made his first senior appearance away to Ospreys this time last year.

Lam admitted: “It’s been a pretty disruptive week with injuries and we’ve lost more players with none coming back into the frame. So once again, we’ve had to dig deep into our resources. With James and Danie injured in the backs, we’ve lost our cover at outside centre.

“Darragh Leader comes on to the bench after impressing for the Eagles last weekend. He’s been a big part of our training squad in recent weeks. Up front, Mata replaces Andrew Browne at six. Browney was unable to train fully this week due to a few knocks he picked up in the last game. But thankfully, with all the injuries we have to the back row, he recovered sufficiently to take his place on the bench.

“Dave Heffernan comes in as cover for hooker and this is a huge opportunity for him to make his mark. Coming up against Leinster at the RDS - it doesn’t get much bigger than that. The current Rabo champions, they’ve been consistently the best team in Europe for the last number of years.

“But these are the type of games you relish and we can’t wait for the challenge. We have trained well on the back of a good win in the Heineken Cup and of course we have a plan to execute in order to give us the best opportunity to beat this team.”

Leinster: R Kearney; F McFadden, L Fitzgerald, N Reid, D Kearney; I Madigan, E Reddan; J McGrath, S Cronin, M Bent; D Toner, Q Roux; K McLaughlin, S O’Brien, J Heaslip (capt). Replacements: A Dundon, J O’Connell, M Moore, M McCarthy, S Jennings, I Boss, J Gopperth, Z Kirchner.

Connacht: G Duffy; T O’Halloran, R Henshaw, C Ronaldson, M Healy; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, S Henry, R Ah You; M Swift (capt), C Clarke; M Fifita, J Heenan, G Naoupu. Replacements: D Heffernan, JP Cooney, R Loughney, A Muldowney, A Browne, P O’Donohue, D Leader, F Carr.

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