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PRO12 teams: Connacht v Leinster

Updated: Friday, 03 Jan 2014 19:46 | Comments

Jamie Heaslip returns at number eight with the captain's armband
Jamie Heaslip returns at number eight with the captain's armband

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Leinster coach Matt O'Connor has made ten changes from the team that beat Ulster for Saturday night's RaboDirect PRO12 clash against Connacht in Galway, kick off 7.15pm.

Only two backs and three forwards are retained from the 15 that accounted for Ulster at the RDS last weekend.

With Zane Kirchner moving to the right wing from full-back, Dave Kearney moves to the bench with brother Rob taking the number 15 jersey from the South African.

Luke Fitzgerald, who is due to win his 120th cap on Saturday, continues his fine run of form on the left wing.

The experienced duo of Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll return to the centre, while Eoin Reddan starts at scrum-half against his former club, with Ian Madigan alongside at out-half. 

The pack also sees a number of fresh faces from last weekend plus a positional switch in the back row.

Man of the match from the Ulster game, Jordi Murphy, is selected at flanker, with captain Jamie Heaslip returning at number eight and Rhys Ruddock is once again selected at number six.

Former Connacht hooker Sean Cronin, who spent three years at the Sportsground before joining Leinster, is also selected to start against his former club.

Joining him in the front row will be Martin Moore and Jack McGrath

Finally, in the second row Devin Toner and Tom Denton start in place of Leo Cullen and Mike McCarthy.

McCarthy is named amongst the replacements.

Leinster: Rob Kearney; Zane Kirchner, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore, Devin Toner, Tom Denton, Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip (captain).

Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Jack O'Connell, Mike Ross, Mike McCarthy, Dominic Ryan, Isaac Boss, Jimmy Gopperth, Dave Kearney. 

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has handed 21-year-old out-half Jack Carty his first start.

Carty is one of three changes in an all-Irish qualified backline with an average age of 22 years old.

The Athlone-native has captained the Connacht Eagles in the British & Irish Cup this season and has featured from the bench in PRO12 games against Benetton Treviso and Munster.

Darragh Leader has also been brought up from the Academy and starts at full-back in place of the injured Gavin Duffy.

The 20-year-old Galway-man has played in three games this season, starting two on the wing at home against Glasgow Warriors and Scarlets.

The pack remains unchanged from last week with flanker Andrew Browne earning his 100th cap for the province.

John Muldoon is once again named at openside while Jake Heenan remains on the injured list. Craig Clarke will captain the side.

There are two changes to the replacements bench with veteran second-row Michael Swift returning from injury.

Dublin-born scrum-half Paul O'Donohoe is in line to earn his 50th Connacht cap should he be called upon from the bench against his former club.

Connacht: Darragh Leader; Fionn Carr , Robbie Henshaw, Eoin Griffin, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris-Wright, Nathan White, Mick Kearney, Craig Clarke (captain), Andrew Browne, John Muldoon, Eoin McKeon.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Buckley, Rodney Ah You, Michael Swift, George Naoupu, Paul O'Donohoe, Dan Parks, Tiernan O'Halloran.  

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