After the Captain’s Run this morning, Leinster Rugby Head Coach Matt O’Connor has announced his match day 23 to take on the Newport Gwent Dragons in the Guinness PRO12 on Sunday afternoon in the RDS Arena (Kick Off: 3.00pm).

Please note that the game is not being televised but tickets are still on sale at www.leinsterrugby.ie/tickets or at the ticket office inside the Anglesea Road gate on match day. Gates open from 1.30pm. 

With 12 Leinster players in the Irish squad to face France tomorrow, there are nine changes in total from the team that started the final Champions Cup game against Wasps three weeks ago. Fergus McFadden, Dave Kearney, Jimmy Gopperth, Michael Bent, Kane Douglas and Dominic Ryan are the six players retained from the team that drew 20-20 in the Ricoh Arena. 

Richardt Strauss and Tadhg Furlong join Michael Bent in the front row, with Tom Denton partnering Kane Douglas in the second. The back row is a mix of youth and experience with Dominic Ryan selected at blindside, Jack Conan at eight and Shane Jennings will captain the side from openside flanker in what will be his 203rd cap for the province. 

Luke McGrath starts at scrumhalf with Jimmy Gopperth outside him at ten. Fergus McFadden – who was recently voted by Leinster supporter as the Bank of Ireland Player of the Month for January – has recovered from the rib injury sustained in the Irish Wolfhounds game against the English Saxons and takes his place on the right wing, while Darragh Fanning is selected on the left. Dave Kearney has also receovered from the shoulder injury picked up early in the game against Wasps and starts at full back for the first time this season.

Noel Reid and Ben Te’o are once again selected at centre having last played together in the 13-22 away win against Cardiff in January. While Te’o went off with a rib injury that day, Reid scored the opening try in a four try bonus point win.  

On the bench, John Cooney, who has been on loan at Connacht this season, has been recalled as scrumhalf cover with other options limited by international commitments with the Irish senior squad and the Under 20s squad. Cooney has to date made 27 appearances for Leinster since his debut in September 2011 against the Ospreys and has played five times for Connacht this season having recovered from a shoulder injury.

O’Connor also confirmed that Maks Van Dyke’s short term loan deal with Leinster has come to an end and he has returned to South Africa in time for the new Super Rugby season there with the Cheetahs. Van Dyk was drafted in as short term cover at prop and played a number of times for the Leinster A’s and against Connacht in the Guinness PRO12. 

Just over 15,000 tickets have now been sold for the game and supporters can still purchase tickets at the following link: www.leinsterrugby.ie/tickets 

LEINSTER: 

15. Dave Kearney
14. Fergus McFadden
13. Ben Te’o
12. Noel Reid
11. Darragh Fanning
10. Jimmy Gopperth
9. Luke McGrath
1. Michael Bent
2. Richardt Strauss
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Tom Denton
5. Kane Douglas
6. Dominic Ryan
7. Shane Jennings CAPTAIN
8. Jack Conan
 
16. Aaron Dundon
17. Peter Dooley
18. Jamie Hagan
19. Mike McCarthy
20. Josh Van Der Flier
21. John Cooney
22. Cathal Marsh
23. Luke Fitzgerald 

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU, 3rd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gaffikin, Oisin Quinn (both IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Tim Lowry (IRFU)