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Dublin: 3°C Sunday 28 February 2021

Two European debutants start as Sexton returns for Leinster's crunch clash with Saracens

Sean Cronin also earns the nods after the line-out struggles against Ulster.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

HALF-BACKS JOHNNY Sexton and Luke McGrath are two of four changes Leinster have made to their starting line-up to face Saracens at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow (kick-off 3pm, BT Sports).

The Champions Cup quarter-final pits Leinster against the last side to defeat them 25 games ago in the 2019 final of this tournament.

A week on from beating Ulster in the Pro14 final, Leinster will tighten their focus onto chasing a double. The oddity of the disjointed season means that Leinster will give two players their European debuts against the reigning champions. Hugo Keenan remains on the wing, while Will Connors returns to the openside flank in place of Josh van der Flier.

Scott Fardy drops out of the 23, so Leinster will introduce a third debutant to the mix if Ryan Baird is sprung from the replacements bench.

The fourth change to the starting side sees Ronan Kelleher pay the price for Leinster’s line-out struggles last week. The young hooker drops to the bench as Sean Cronin slots back into the front row.

Tadhg Furlong remains out of action despite positive noises about his recovery from a back issue. Andrew Porter starts alongside Cronin with Michael Bent among the replacements.

The relegated English champions have been able to welcome back Mako Vunipola to their front row, with his brother Billy at number 8.

Owen Farrell’s suspension means fullback Alex Goode will take the reins at out-half with Test Lion Elliot Daly in the 15 shirt.

maro-itoje-and-james-ryan Itoje has had the upper hand on recent meetings for both club and country. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Maro Itoje will again square off against James Ryan as two of the game’s great young second rows, while the hard-hitting Jackson Wray will win his 250th cap for the club.

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15. Jordan Larmour
14. Hugo Keenan
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe
10. Jonathan Sexton (Captain)
9. Luke McGrath

1. Cian Healy
2. Sean Cronin
3. Andrew Porter
4. Devin Toner
5. James Ryan
6. Caelan Doris
7. Will Connors
8. Jack Conan


16. Ronan Kelleher
17. Ed Byrne
18. Michael Bent
19. Ryan Baird
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Jamison Gibson-Park
22. Ross Byrne
23. Rory O’Loughlin


15 Elliot Daly
14 Alex Lewington
13 Duncan Taylor
12 Brad Barritt (Captain)
11 Sean Maitland
10 Alex Goode
9 Richard Wigglesworth

1 Mako Vunipola
2 Jamie George
3 Vincent Koch
4 Maro Itoje
5 Tim Swinson
6 Mike Rhodes
7 Jackson Wray
8 Billy Vunipola


16 Tom Woolstencroft
17 Richard Barrington
18 Alec Clarey
19 Callum Hunter-Hill
20 Calum Clark
21 Aled Davies
22 Manu Vunipola
23 Dom Morris

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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