Leo Cullen rings changes for Leinster’s potentially tricky test

Province without Johnny Sexton, Andrew Porter and Ronan Kelleher for Benetton clash

Benetton v Leinster 
Stadio Communale di Monigo  
(5.15, Irish time, live on Eir Sport)

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen gets a final opportunity to make use of his frontline players before the bulk of them head off for Ireland duty and to that end it has informed his selection for the trip to Treviso.

There are six changes to the starting team, a couple because of injuries to Johnny Sexton, Andrew Porter and Ronan Kelleher, while there is also a desire to rotate personnel. Robbie Henshaw will play his first game of the new Pro14 season, Ross Byrne is named at outhalf, while there are four alterations to the pack in the form of James Tracy, Ryan Baird, Caelan Doris and Will Connors.

Young tighthead prop Thomas Clarkson, Ross Molony, Harry Byrne and Jimmy O’Brien graduate to the matchday 23.


Athletic ability

Kieran Crowley’s Benetton team produced some excellent rugby in their opening round defeat to Ulster with young outhalf Paolo Garbisi a catalyst for his team’s better attacking moments. The Italian side poses plenty of problems with their muscular, direct carrying and possess a cutting edge on the wings. They have proved troublesome opponents for Leinster in the past.

However, if the visitors can ensure that they keep the pace of the game at a high level for the most part, they certainly possess the athletic ability and football skills to capitalise.

Benetton: J Hayward; R Tavuyara, L Morisi, M Zanon, M Ioane; P Garbisi, D Duvenage (capt); C Traore, H Faiva, T Pasquali; I Herbst, E Snyman; S Negri, A Steyn, T Halafihi. Replacements: G Lucchesi, N Quaglio, S Ferrari, N Cannone, F Ruzza, G Pettinelli, C Braley, E Padovani.

Leinster: H Keenan; J Larmour, G Ringrose (capt), R Henshaw, J Lowe; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; E Byrne, J Tracy, M Bent; R Baird, J Ryan; C Doris, W Connors, J Conan. Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy, T Clarkson, R Molony, R Ruddock, L McGrath, H Byrne, J O'Brien.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer