The Leinster team to face Connacht in Saturday’s Magners League derby at the Sportsground (KO: 4pm) has been named.
Ireland trio Girvan Dempsey, Trevor Hogan and Mike Ross come into the team for the trip to Galway in a side that includes nine Ireland internationals in all in the starting line-up.
Dempsey starts at full-back and Shane Horgan and Isa Nacewa continue on the wings, while Ireland ‘A’ back Fergus McFadden will partner fellow former Clongowes man Gordon D’Arcy at centre.
Eoin Reddan continues his half-back partnership with Shaun Berne.
In the pack, Nathan Hines has recovered from injury to take his place in the back-row alongside Sean O’Brien and Stephen Keogh.
The replacements bench will be confirmed closer to kick off.
Leinster Starting XV:
15: Girvan Dempsey
14: Shane Horgan
13: Fergus McFadden
12: Gordon D’Arcy
11: Isa Nacewa
10: Shaun Berne
9: Eoin Reddan
1: Stan Wright
2: Bernard Jackman
3: Mike Ross
4: Leo Cullen CAPTAIN
5: Trevor Hogan
6: Nathan Hines
7: Sean O’Brien
8: Stephen Keogh
REPLACEMENTS FROM: 16: Richardt Strauss, 17: Ronan McCormack, 18: Devin Toner, 19: Kevin McLaughlin, 20: Paul Ryan, 21: Paul O’Donohoe, 22: Simon Keogh, 23: David Kearney
REFEREE: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU), ASSISTANT REFEREES: D. Wilkinson (IRFU), M. Black (IRFU), TMO: Bertie Smith (IRFU)
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game in Galway, Leinster centre FERGUS McFADDEN said that the squad are determined to maintain their recent good run of form.
"We know what to expect against Connacht because they are formidable opponents in the Sportsground and they have been in impressive form at home and away over the last few weeks.
"Obviously I would know a few of their players like Fionn (Carr), Jamie (Hagan) and Keats (Ian Keatley) who were involved in the Leinster Academy before, but we’re expecting a really tough game up front first and foremost and we will have to gain dominance there to lay the platform.
"You never get an easy game in Interpro’ derbies and we’re under no illusions as to what kind of a challenge awaits us. From our perspective it is vital that we work on the areas that we were poor at last weekend in the win over Ulster.
"There were a few 50-50 passes that were poorly executed from our end, while there were defensive errors that will be punished if we repeat them this week, but training has gone well and the focus and intent from the squad has been encouraging. It’s not as if we need major reconstruction, but we do need to tighten up some of our areas and to be more clinical in possession.
"From my own perspective I was delighted to get some game time in Europe a few weeks back in the victories over the Scarlets and although they were late cameos, it gives you confidence and a taste for the big games.
"It is good to be involved in keenly contested games at this time of year, even though you miss out on some of the social elements of Christmas and the New Year. But as players we’re not complaining because you do get to spend a bit of time with your families and loved ones.
"We’re in our own little bubble, working away as a group, so nothing really changes for us. But I’m personally happy to be playing regularly and it gives you a lift when you’re winning and we want to continue that."