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Dublin: 8°C Saturday 15 May 2021

O'Connor calls on Gopperth for Castres trip as Carty takes the reins again for Connacht

The western province have also been able to welcome back Jake Heenan and Sean Henry from injury

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

LEINSTER HEAD COACH Matt O’Connor has placed his trust in Jimmy Gopperth as the eastern head to Castres for Sunday’s must-win Heineken Cup Pool 1 encounter.

Ireland international Ian Madigan had been filling the number 10 duties for the best part of the last month, including the away win and home defeat to Northampton in December.

Gopperth impressed, playing a part in each of Leinster’s 13 unanswered points, after appearing off the bench against Connacht last Saturday night and has been rewarded with the number 10 shirt for Sunday.

The Kiwi will be joined at half back by Eoin Reddan and the duo will have no shortage of firepower outside of them with Gordon D’Arcy, Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald, Dave and Rob Kearney – the latter will win his 50th Heineken Cup cap in France.

Jamie Heaslip captains the side and he will be flanked by Jordi Murphy and Kevin McLaughlin behind a tight five unchanged from the December defeat.

Meanwhile, Connacht coach Pat Lam has once again handed a start to 21-year-old academy out-half Jack Carty. The Buccaneers number impressed in his full debut against Leinster last week and once again forces Dan Parks to take a seat on the bench.

It is the same all-Irish back-line which started last week’s inter-pro, but the pack faces a reshuffle with Craig Clarke ruled out with a neck injury.

Andrew Browne takes up the vacancy in the second row with Jake Heenan returning from injury to take up his favoured number seven shirt.

Connacht (v Zebre): D Leader, F Carr, R Henshaw, E Griffin, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion: B Wilkinson, S Henry, N White, M Kearney, A Browne; J Muldoon (capt) J Heenan, E McKeon.

Replacements: J Harris-Wright, D Buckley, R Ah You, M Swift, G Naoupu, P O’Donohoe, D Parks, G Duffy.

Leinster (v Castres): R Kearney, D Kearney, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Gopperth, E Reddan: J McGrath, S Cronin, M Ross; D Toner, M McCarthy; K McLaughlin, J Murphy, J Heaslip (Capt.)

Replacements: A Dundon, J O’Connell, M Moore, L Cullen, S Jennings, I Boss, I Madigan, Z Kirchner.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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