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European finalists Leinster name entirely changed XV for URC derby

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Fresh from beating Toulouse last Saturday in Dublin, Heineken Champions Cup finalists Leinster have named an entirely different starting XV to face Munster in this Saturday’s URC derby. None of the 15 players who took the field as starters in last weekend’s semi-final have been chosen and only three European replacements have been included – Ciaran Frawley and Joe McCarthy as starters with Cian Healy again named on the bench. 

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Looking ahead to next weekend’s Champions Cup final versus La Rochelle in Marseille, the selections that generate most interest against Munster are the return to fitness of back three player Jordan Larmour, who is chosen at full-back, and second row Ryan Baird.

In contrast to the Leinster overhaul, Munster will run out at the Aviva with eleven of the same starters that lost out to Toulouse a fortnight ago in a Champions Cup quarter-final that was decided on a penalty shootout. Skipper Peter O’Mahony, Stephen Archer, Simon Zebo and Damian de Allende are the four names missing from their teamsheet on this occasion.

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The loss of Zebo is offset by the return of Andrew Conway from a knee injury for his first Munster appearance since January. Illness, meanwhile, has denied prop Archer from becoming his province’s second most capped player of all time. Munster had touted earlier this week that Archer was poised for his 248th appearance, moving him ahead of Billy Holland on the province’s all-time list with only Donncha O’Callaghan on 268 left to catch. 

Victory is a must for Munster in their last game of the regulation league season. Leinster have sewn up first place heading into the quarter-finals but Munster in second could tumble down the URC rankings as they are level on 56 points with the Sharks and Stormers. Ulster are a point behind while the sixth-place Bulls are on 53 points.

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LEINSTER: 15. Jordan Larmour; 14. Rob Russell, 13. Jamie Osborne, 12. Ciarán Frawley, 11. Rory O’Loughlin; 10. Harry Byrne, 9. Cormac Foley; 1. Ed Byrne (capt), 2. Sean Cronin, 3. Thomas Clarkson, 4. Joe McCarthy, 5. Josh Murphy, 6. Ryan Baird, 7. Scott Penny, 8. Max Deegan. Reps: 16. John McKee, 17. Peter Dooley, 18. Cian Healy, 19. Devin Toner, 20. Alex Soroka, 21. Ben Murphy, 22. David Hawkshaw, 23. Adam Byrne. 

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MUNSTER: 15. Mike Haley; 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Chris Farrell, 12. Dan Goggin, 11. Keith Earls; 10. Joey Carbery, 9. Conor Murray; 1. Josh Wycherley, 2. Niall Scannell, 3. John Ryan, 4. Jean Kleyn, 5. Thomas Ahern, 6. Fineen Wycherley, 7. Alex Kendellen, 8. Jack O’Donoghue (capt). Reps: 16. Diarmuid Barron, 17. Jeremy Loughman, 18. Keynan Knox, 19. Jason Jenkins, 20. Jack Daly, 21. Craig Casey, 22. Ben Healy, 23. Rory Scannell.

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