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O'Brien and Larmour back to start for Leinster in huge boost ahead of Scarlets

Leo Cullen’s side face Benetton Treviso at the RDS tomorrow evening.

O'Brien has recovered from a shoulder injury.
O'Brien has recovered from a shoulder injury.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

LEINSTER HAVE BEEN boosted by the return of Sean O’Brien and Jordan Larmour ahead of next week’s Champions Cup semi-final, with both named to start in tomorrow’s Guinness Pro14 clash with Benetton Treviso [KO 7.35pm, TG4].

O’Brien hasn’t played since suffering a dead shoulder against Scarlets during the Six Nations window, which happened 27 minutes into his comeback from a troublesome hip injury which had sidelined him for three months.

The flanker’s return to fitness is a major fillip for Leo Cullen ahead of the semi-final showdown with Scarlets on Saturday week, with O’Brien set to get valuable game time under his belt against the Italian visitors at the RDS.

Larmour sustained a leg injury in training in the week building up to the Pro14 defeat to Ospreys last month but has made good progress in his recovery and starts as expected at fullback.

Jack McGrath captains Leinster for the third time this season while Fergus McFadden, Joey Carbery, Andrew Porter and Jordi Murphy are among the players to come back in after sitting out last weekend’s facile win over Zebre.

In total, Cullen has made 11 changes in personnel from last week as he looks to shuffle his pack in a bid to maintain freshness ahead of the visit of Scarlets to the Aviva Stadium.

Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney, Scott Fardy, Isa Nacewa, Garry Ringrose and James Ryan have been given another week off while Luke McGrath — not involved tomorrow — remains a serious doubt with an ankle injury.

With Ross Byrne named on the bench, Carbery is set for his first start of the season at out-half and partners Jamison Gibson-Park, who is one of only four players retained from last week — Barry Daly, Rory O’Loughlin and Max Deegan being the others.

Jordan Larmour Jordan Larmour also returns from injury. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Richardt Strauss starts for the first time since February with Andrew Porter completing the front row. Ross Molony and Ian Nagle pair up in the second row with O’Brien, Murphy and Deegan in the engine room.

In the backs, Larmour makes his first appearance since coming off the bench in Ireland’s Grand Slam decider at Twickenham for his 17th cap of a breakthrough season, with Daly switching from fullback to wing. James Lowe is rested.

With two regular season games remaining, Leinster can take a big step towards a home semi-final with victory tomorrow, their lead over nearest Conference B rivals Scarlets standing at four points.

Leinster:

15. Jordan Larmour
14. Fergus McFadden
13. Rory O’Loughlin
12. Noel Reid
11. Barry Daly
10. Joey Carbery
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Jack McGrath (captain)
2. Richardt Strauss
3. Andrew Porter
4. Ross Molony
5. Ian Nagle
6. Jordi Murphy
7. Seán O’Brien
8. Max Deegan

Replacements: 

16. James Tracy
17. Ed Byrne
18. Michael Bent
19. Mick Kearney
20. Peadar Timmins
21. Nick McCarthy
22. Ross Byrne
23. Adam Byrne

Benetton Treviso:

15. Jayden Hayward
14. Andrea Bronzini
13. Tommaso Iannone
12. Alberto Sgarbi (captain)
11. Monty Ioane
10. Tommaso Allan
9. Tito Tebaldi

1. Federico Zani
2. Luca Bigi
3. Simone Ferrari
4. Marco Lazzaroni
5. Alessandro Zanni
6. Federico Ruzza
7. Sebastian Negri
8. Nasi Manu

Replacements:

16. Engjel Makelara
17. Cherif Traore
18. Tiziano Pasquali
19. Irné Herbst
20. Marco Fuser
21. Dean Budd
22. Ian McKinley
23. Tommaso Benvenuti.

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