Leinter Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen has announced his first home match day squad of the 2017/18 Guinness PRO14 season and with it welcomes back a number of players for their first involvement of the new season.
But the night and the occasion belongs to Meath man Devin Toner who will lead the team out on the occasion of his 200th cap for Leinster. In doing so he becomes only the sixth Leinster player to have achieved that milestone with Jamie Heaslip the only other player in the current squad.
He has scored three tries in his 199 caps to date with the last one coming in September 2012 against the Scarlets.
The 6’10” lock made his debut in January 2006 in a home win against Border Reivers and will be hoping for a similar result 12 seasons later.
Elsewhere Cullen has picked the same back line – bar one – that accounted for Dragons last week in Rodney Parade with Irish scrum half Luke McGrath the only change as he starts beside Ross Byrne.
Otherwise it’s as you were with Rob Kearney at full back, Adam Byrne on the right wing and Jordan Larmour on the left for his first senior game in the RDS Arena. Larmour made a try scoring start to his Leinster career last week.
Isa Nacewa again captains the side from inside centre with Rory O’Loughlin outside him at 13.
Once again Cian Healy and Michael Bent are chosen as the props but James Tracy comes in at hooker for his first start of the campaign.
In the second row, once again Scott Fardy has been partnered with Toner, as the 39 times capped Australian international makes his RDS debut.
There are two changes to the back row with only Josh van der Flier retained as he again starts at openside. Rhys Ruddock is involved for the first time this season fresh from captaining the Irish team during the summer on their unbeaten tour of the USA and Japan. Jack Conan is the final name on Cullen’s starting XV having impressed off the bench against Dragons.
On the bench there is a first involvement of the season for Mick Kearney.
Tickets for Leinster Rugby’s first home game of the season against Cardiff Blues at the RDS Arena tomorrow, Friday, 8th September (KO 7.35pm), are on sale now. Get tickets from €20.
Leinster Rugby (Leinster caps in brackets):
15. Rob Kearney (186)
14. Adam Byrne (22)
13. Rory O’Loughlin (22)
12. Isa Nacewa (171) CAPTAIN
11. Jordan Larmour (1)
10. Ross Byrne (24)
9. Luke McGrath (75)
1. Cian Healy (173)
2. James Tracy (43)
3. Michael Bent (88)
4. Devin Toner (199)
5. Scott Fardy (1)
6. Rhys Ruddock (131)
7. Josh van der Flier (47)
8. Jack Conan (52)
16. Seán Cronin (129)
17. Ed Byrne (8)
18. Andrew Porter (9)
19. Mick Kearney (21)
20. Dan Leavy (40)
21. Nick McCarthy (8)
22. Cathal Marsh (19)
23. Barry Daly (11)
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)