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Dublin: 18 °C Sunday 25 August, 2019
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Lions star George North gets Saints start against Leinster

The Welsh winger has been named in a strong Northampton side for the Friday night clash in Donnybrook.

George North celebrates scoring a try for the Lions against Australia.
George North celebrates scoring a try for the Lions against Australia.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

LEINSTER RUGBY SUPPORTERS need not wait until the RaboDirect Pro12 season officially kicks off tp see triumphant British and Irish Lions players in action.

Northampton Saints have named winger George North and prop Alex Corbisiero in a strong starting XV to face the Blues in Donnybrook on Friday. Signed respectively from Scarlets and London Irish, North and Corbisiero starred for the Lions against Australia this summer.

North, who is named to start on the left wing, scored tries in First and Third Test victories over The Wallabies as the Lions clinched the series 2-1. He sprinted in a fantastic, punt-return try in Brisbane and crossed the line again in the 41-16 win in Sydney. His fireman’s carry of Aussie winger Israel Folau was one of the stand-out moments of the series.

The Welshman’s direct opponent in Donnybrook will be 26-year-old St Mary’s winger Darragh Fanning, who has been elevated to the starting line-up by Matt O’Connor.

The former Leicester Tigers coach also named his Leinster team today and has paired Noel Reid in the centre with Brendan Macken. Shane Jennings will lead Leinster and is joined in the back row by Jordi Murphy and Rhys Ruddock, who led the team against Ulster last weekend.

New Zealand outhalf Jimmy Gopperth gets another start as he beds in with the three-time Heineken Cup winners. Ireland internationals Sean Cronin, Eoin Reddan and Fergus McFadden have been named among the replacements. Leinster’s Lions will be eased back into the team during September.

Corbisiero, scorer of a crucial try in that Third Test against Australia, starts at loosehead for Saints and will prove a stern test for promising Leinster prop Martin Moore.

The preseason friendly kicks off at 7pm with tickets still available for purchase.

Leinster XV: Darren Hudson; Darragh Fanning, Brendan Macken, Noel Reid, Sam Coghlan-Murray; Jimmy Gopperth, Luke McGrath; Jack McGrath, Aaron Dundon, Martin Moore; Quinn Roux, Tom Denton; Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings (c), Jordi Murphy.
Saints XV: James Wilson; Ken Pisi, George Pisi, Luther Burrell, George North; Stephen Meyler, Lee Dickson; Alex Corbisiero, Ross McMillan, Gareth Denman; Courtney Lawes, Samu Manoa; Calum Clark, Phil Dowson (c), Sam Dickinson.

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Patrick McCarry

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