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Fit-again Sexton back in Leinster line-up as Nacewa named permanent captain

Johnny Sexton is back in Leinster colours for the first time since 2013.

Johnny Sexton is back in Leinster blue this weekend.
Johnny Sexton is back in Leinster blue this weekend.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THERE’S GOOD NEWS on the double for Johnny Sexton ahead of Leinster’s Guinness PRO12 round 6 clash with Bennetton Treviso at the Stadio Monigo on Sunday.

Fit-again Sexton returns to provincial duty following his return from Racing Metro and has been named as Leinster’s joint vice-captain.

Sexton suffered injury heartbreak at the World Cup after suffering a groin problem against France.

He was then ruled out of Ireland’s quarter-final defeat to Argentina but the 30-year-old has recovered and there’s a further boost with confirmation of his new role.

Jamie Heaslip, who took over the Ireland captaincy at the World Cup following Paul O’Connell’s injury, will share vice-captaincy duties with Sexton at Leinster.

Cullen has confirmed that Isa Nacewa had been installed as Leinster captain on a permanent basis.

Isa Nacewa Isa Nacewa has been confirmed as Leinster's captain on a permanent basis. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Following the retirement of Kevin McLaughlin, Nacewa, who has 131 caps for Leinster and has scored 429 points in his career to date, had taken up the role on an interim basis during the Rugby World Cup.

In team news, there are nine changes in total to the starting XV with a host of Irish internationals returning and a debut in the second row for Maori All Blacks player, Hayden Triggs.

Nacewa captains the side from full back with Fergus McFadden again selected on the right wing.

Dave Kearney, who started in four games during the Rugby World Cup and scored a try against Canada, comes onto the left wing.

Ben Te’o and Luke Fitzgerald start in the centre for the first time together although they have played there before in the Guinness PRO12 – last season at home to the Dragons when Fitzgerald came on early in the game for the injured Noel Reid.

In the half backs, Eoin Reddan makes his first start in blue of the season, while outside him Sexton makes his first appearance since his return during the summer from Racing Metro.

Johnny Sexton leaves the field injured Johnny Sexton suffered World Cup injury heartbreak. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Sexton has 110 Leinster caps to date, along with 1,027 points, and it will be a first outing in Leinster colours for the St. Mary’s club man since the last game of the 2012/2013 season when Leinster beat Ulster in the PRO12 Final.

In the forwards, it is a completely new front row as Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong all start for the first time this season.

Furlong did, however, feature off the bench last weekend against the Glasgow Warriors.

Six foot seven New Zealander and former Blues second row Hayden Triggs makes his debut alongside Mike McCarthy, who starts for the fifth time this season.

Hayden Triggs Hayden Triggs, all 6ft 7 of him, will make his Leinster debut. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

In the back row Rhys Ruddock starts again at blindside while Jordi Murphy comes in at openside for his 61st appearance in Leinster colours since his debut in September 2011.

Wicklow man Jack Conan completes the pack from number eight.

Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy and Devin Toner are all in line to make their seasonal bows from the bench as Leinster go in search of a first away win of the season.

The game kicks off at 3pm Irish time and is live on SKY Sports.

LEINSTER:

15. Isa Nacewa CAPTAIN
14. Fergus McFadden
13. Ben Te’o
12. Luke Fitzgerald
11. Dave Kearney
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Eoin Reddan
1. Jack McGrath
2. Sean Cronin
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Hayden Triggs
5. Mike McCarthy
6. Rhys Ruddock
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Jack Conan

Replacements:

16. Richardt Strauss
17. Cian Healy
18. Marty Moore
19. Devin Toner
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Luke McGrath
22. Cathal Marsh
23. Noel Reid

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 5th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Giuseppe Vivarini, Gregorio Piran (both FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Francesco Grillo (FIR)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (FIR)

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