It's Furlong in, Vito out as Leinster and La Rochelle name teams
Leinster have named an entirely unchanged matchday 23 for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup final in Marseille after recent knocks affecting starters Tadhg Furlong, Ronan Kelleher and James Lowe, along with replacement Ciaran Frawley, all came right in time.
Furlong (ankle), Kelleher (concussion) and Lowe (shin) all shipped blows in the May 14 semi-final win over Toulouse in Dublin and so concerned were Leinster about covering every potential eventuality regarding their front row that they had long-serving loosehead Cian Healy play as a tighthead sub in last weekend’s URC win over Munster.
That was a game in which European 23rd man Frawley suffered a facial injury, prompting speculation that Jordan Larmour, who was named player of the match last week, might sneak back into the squad for the Marseille showdown versus Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle. The legendary Brian O’Driscoll didn’t agree, telling RugbyPass last Monday that Leinster would name an unchanged 23 and he has since been proved right.
The French side, who defeated Leinster in last year’s semi-finals, have made four changes to their XV from this year’s semi-final win over Racing 92. Brice Dulin is at full-back with Dillyn Leyds switching to the right wing and Jules Favre dropping to the bench, while Thomas Berjon starts at scrum-half in place of the injured Tewara Kerr-Barlow.
In the pack, Will Skelton is in for Remi Picquette and Matthias Haddad will deputise at openside for Victor Vito, another injured All Blacks World Cup winner. Haddad’s spot on the bench is filled by Remi Bourdeau.
LEINSTER: 15. Hugo Keenan; 14. Jimmy O’Brien, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. James Lowe; 10. Johnny Sexton (capt), 9. Jamison Gibson-Park; 1. Andrew Porter, 2. Ronan Kelleher, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Ross Molony, 5. James Ryan, 6. Caelan Doris, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Jack Conan. Reps: 16. Dan Sheehan, 17. Cian Healy, 18. Michael Ala’alatoa, 19. Joe McCarthy, 20. Rhys Ruddock, 21. Luke McGrath, 22. Ross Byrne, 23. Ciaran Frawley.
LA ROCHELLE: 15. Brice Dulin; 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Jeremy Sinzelle, 12. Jonathan Danty, 11. Raymond Rhule; 10. Ihaia West, 9. Thomas Berjon; 1. Dany Priso, 2. Pierre Bourgarit, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Thomas Lavault, 5. Will Skelton, 6. Wiaan Liebenberg, 7. Matthias Haddad, 8. Gregory Alldritt (capt). Reps: 16. Facundo Bosch, 17. Reda Wardi, 18. Joel Sclavi, 19. Romain Sazy, 20. Remi Bourdeau, 21. Arthur Retiere, 22. Levani Botia, 23. Jules Favre.
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