Johnny Sexton back as Leinster unleash big guns on Dragons
James Ryan, Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney among those returning for Pro14 clash
Johnny Sexton returns to the Leinster side for Saturday’s clash with the Dragons at the RDS. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Pro14 Leinster v Dragons, Saturday September 15th, RDS Arena (5.15pm, Eir Sport, TG4)
Johnny Sexton is back in the saddle for Leinster as a number of the province’s big guns return to action at the RDS Arena on Saturday evening.
Sexton is making his first appearance since Ireland’s successful summer tour to Australia, with Rob Kearney also among a host of internationals returning for the Pro14 clash against the Dragons.
Leo Cullen and Ireland boss Joe Schmidt have been handed a further boost with Josh van der Flier fit enough to be named in the starting XV for the first time since he injured knee ligaments during the 2018 Six Nations.
Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose will also resume their midfield partnership for the first time this season, as the defending Pro14 champions look to bounce back from last weekend’s narrow defeat away to the Scarlets.
Rob Kearney’s selection at 15 means Jordan Larmour starts on the wing, with Dave Kearney completing the back three. Sexton meanwhile is joined by Jamison Gibson-Park in the halfbacks.
Up front Ed Byrne and Andrew Porter also make their first appearances of the campaign at loosehead and tighthead respectively, with Sean Cronin between them at hooker.
The totemic James Ryan also returns to action alongside Scott Fardy in the engine room, with Max Deegan and Jack Conan joining Van der Flier in the backrow and completing a forimidable Leinster XV.
Head coach Cullen also has plenty of firepower on the bench, with Tadhg Furlong and Joe Tomane among the replacements.
Leinster: Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Johnny Sexton, Jamison Gibson-Park; Ed Byrne, Seán Cronin, Andrew Porter, Scott Fardy, James Ryan, Max Deegan, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan. Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Peter Dooley, Tadhg Furlong, Ross Molony, Caelan Doris, Hugh O’Sullivan, Noel Reid, Joe Tomane.
Dragons: Jordan Williams, Dafydd Howells, Adam Warren, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos, Josh Lewis, Rhodri Williams; Brok Harris, Elliot Dee, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Cory Hill (c), Aaron Wainwright, Nic Cudd, Ross Moriarty. Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Ryan Bevington, Leon Brown, Brandon Nansen, Ollie Griffiths, Tavis Knoyle, Arwel Robson, Jarryd Sage.