Leinster have named 15 Irish internationals in their starting team to face La Rochelle in Sunday's Heineken Champions Cup semi-final.

In total there are 12 changes to the side that lost last weekend to Munster in the Rainbow Cup.

Luke McGrath will again captain the side in the absence of Johnny Sexton, while Ross Byrne will make his 100th appearance for the club.

"With Johnny, we were just keen for him to see some specialists and experts in the field and ultimately we have a lot of faith in Ross as well," said head coach Leo Cullen of Sexton's continued absence.

"We're on the conservative side with some of the decision-making so we didn’t try to pressure Johnny.

"People will have seen he is training with the group, we’re just keeping him out of the contact piece at the moment.

"He’s not a million miles away from being available so that was just the decision we made and that everyone came to.

"So we need to crack on with the group that we have."

Similar to the win away to Exeter in the last round, Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour and James Lowe, who scored three tries between them in the win in Sandy Park, make up the back three selected by head coach Leo Cullen.

Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are selected in midfield.

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In the pack Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong start in the front row, with Devin Toner and James Ryan behind them in the second row.

In the back row Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan all start this week having missed the game against Munster last weekend.

On the bench both Rowan Osborne (hand) and Ciarán Frawley (hamstring) have recovered from injury to take their place in the match-day 23, while Andrew Porter is in line to win his 75th cap for Leinster.

Ronan O'Gara, head coach of La Rochelle, has been able to include scrum-half Tawera Kerr Barlow and out-half Ihaia West after the pair recovered from injury.

Leinster: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt); Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong; Devin Toner, James Ryan; Rhys Ruddock, 7. Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Andrew Porter, Scott Fardy, Ryan Baird, Rowan Osborne, Ciarán Frawley, Rory O'Loughlin.

La Rochelle: Brice Dulin; Dillyn Leyds, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Levani Botia, Raymond Rhule; Ihaia West, Tawera Kerr Barlow; Reda Wardi, Pierre Bourgarit, Uini Atonio; Romain Sazy (capt), Will Skelton; Grégory Alldritt, Wiaan Liebenberg, Victor Vito.

Replacements: Facundo Bosch, Dany Priso, Arthur Joly, Thomas Lavault, Kevin Gourdon, Arthur Retiere, Jules Plisson, Pierre Aguillon.

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