Johnny Sexton captains Leinster against the Dragons
Leo Cullen names a strong side for Pro14 opener but Dan Leavy remains absent
Johnny Sexton will captain Leinster in their Pro14 opener against the Dragons. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Pro14: Leinster v Dragons, Friday October 2nd, RDS Arena (kick-off 8.15pm, eir Sport, TG4)
Johnny Sexton will captain Leinster as they get their 2020-21 Pro14 campaign underway against the Dragons on Friday night.
The defending champions return to the RDS Arena for their season opener - athough there will be no supporters present due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions enforced in Dublin.
Leinster are back in action 13 days after their Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Saracens, and Leo Cullen has picked a strong side for the visit of the Welsh.
Sexton is partnered in the halfbacks by Jamison Gibson-Park, with Ciarán Frawley and Garry Ringrose in midfield. There has been a reshuffle in the back three - Hugo Keenan starts at fullback with Jordan Larmour and James Lowe on the wings.
Up front Rónan Kelleher takes the number two jersey and lines out in between Ed Byrne and Michael Bent.
Scott Fardy and James Ryan are named in the engine room, with Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan in the backrow.
There is no place in the matchday squad for Dan Leavy, as he waits his return to action following a serious knee injury.
Leinster: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Ciarán Frawley, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Ed Byrne, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Bent; Scott Fardy, James Ryan; Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan. Replacements: Seán Cronin, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Max Deegan, Luke McGrath, Ross Byrne, Tommy O’Brien.
Dragons: Will Talbot-Davies; Jonah Holmes, Nick Tompkins, Jamie Roberts, Ashton Hewitt; Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (c); Brok Harris, Elliot Dee, Aaron Jarvis; Joe Davies, Joe Maksymiw; Aaron Wainwright, Harrison Keddie, Ross Moriarty. Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Conor Maguire, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Taine Basham, Tavis Knoyle, Josh Lewis, Adam Warren
Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR)