Leinster make nine changes for Pro12 clash with Cardiff
Leo Cullen makes Johnny Sexton captain as province try to halt Blues’ winning start
Leinster’s Jamison Gibson-Park in action against Ospreys: he starts at scrumhalf for Cardiff game. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Cardiff v Leinster, Cardiff Arms Park, 7.35pm. TG4.
Leinster’s remarkable supremacy over their capital city rivals from Wales can rarely have looked so threatened. Their only defeat to the Blues in the sides’ last 19 fixtures in all tournaments since 2007 was 3-11 at Cardiff City Stadium in February 2011. Since then Leinster have won the last 11 meetings on the bounce.
However, the Welsh regions are generally quite confident when going well and Cardiff go into the fifth round as one of only two teams with 100 per cent records and only trailed Ulster on points’ difference.
Leo Cullen has rung the changes for the match, no doubt with one eye on the forthcoming derbies and forays into Europe, as well as Irish player welfare demands as bulk supplier for the November Tests.
Cullen makes nine changes in personnel, with Rory O’Loughlin making his full competitive debut in midfield. Former Munster lock Ian Nagle, who last played in the Pro12 in December 2013 for Munster against the Scarlets, also starts.
Fergus McFadden is restored to the wing, with Jamison Gibson-Park handed a second start inside Johnny Sexton, who is made captain.
New frontrowMike RossDan LeavyRhys Ruddock
Gareth Anscombe is restored at outhalf for Cardiff, while Nick Williams is back at number eight and Gethin Jenkins, Kristian Dacey and Taufa’ao Filise form the frontrow.
LEINSTER: Z Kirchner; F McFadden, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, D Kearney; J Sexton (capt), J Gibson Park; J McGrath, J Tracy, M Ross, M Kearney, I Nagle, D Leavy, J van der Flier, R Ruddock. Replacements: S Cronin, P Dooley, M Bent, D Toner, J Heaslip, N McCarthy, J Carbery, B Daly.
CARDIFF: M Morgan; B Scully, C Allen, R Lee-Lo, TJames; G Anscombe, L Williams; G Jenkins (capt), K Dacey, T Filise, G Earle, J Turnbull, S Warburton, E Jenkins, NWilliams. Replacements: M Rees, RGill, S Andrews, M Cook, J Navidi, T Williams, SShingler, D Fish.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)
Forecast: Cardiff to win.