Leinster have made three changes to their semi-final XV at La Rochelle from the team that dethroned defending Heineken Champions Cup champions Exeter in the quarter-finals three weeks ago. Fit-again Garry Ringrose will resume his midfield partnership with Robbie Henshaw, with the deputising Rory O’Loughlin dropping to the bench.
Ross Byrne, who came on as a Sandy Park replacement for Johnny Sexton, has been chosen as the starting out-half while the sole change to the pack that led the charge in Leinster recovering from an early 14-point deficit is the inclusion of fit-again James Ryan for the benched Scott Fardy.
Ryan made his return to action in last weekend’s Rainbow Cup defeat to Munster after he had picked up a concussion in Ireland’s March 14 Guinness Six Nations win over Scotland.
With Sexton still dealing with his own concussive symptoms and Jamison Gibson-Park still hamstrung, the Leinster bench in France on Sunday will have a look of inexperience as Rowan Osborne and Ciaran Frawley are backing up starting half-back duo, Luke McGrath and Byrne.
Scrum-half Osbourne has only ever featured nine times for the Irish club, coming off the bench in seven of his nine PRO14 appearances, while Frawley has just two Champions Cup runs to his name from Leinster games last December. La Rochelle, meanwhile, have made one change from their quarter-final win over Sale, Wiaan Liebenberg coming in at openside for Kevin Gourdon who drops to the bench.
The iconic Twickenham Stadium will host the 2021 #HeinekenChampionsCup final with a limited number of fans permitted to attend ?
Details ?? https://t.co/naHHmlJQUA
Take a look back the glorious winning moments from the previous finals held at Twickenham ? pic.twitter.com/GrJB8zDuh1
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 30, 2021
LA ROCHELLE: 15. Brice Dulin; 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12. Levani Botia, 11. Raymond Rhule; 10. Ihaia West, 9. Tawera Kerr Barlow; 1. Reda Wardi, 2. Pierre Bourgarit, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Romain Sazy (capt), 5. Will Skelton, 6. Gregory Alldritt, 7. Wiaan Liebenberg, 8. Victor Vito. Reps: 16. Facundo Bosch, 17. Dany Priso, 18. Arthur Joly, 19. Thomas Lavault, 20. Kevin Gourdon, 21. Arthur Retiere, 22. Jules Plisson, 23. Pierre Aguillon.
LEINSTER: 15. Hugo Keenan; 14. Jordan Larmour, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Garry Ringrose, 11. James Lowe; 10. Ross Byrne, 9. Luke McGrath (capt); 1. Cian Healy, 2. Ronan Kelleher, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Devin Toner, 5. James Ryan, 6. Rhys Ruddock, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Jack Conan. Reps: 16. James Tracy, 17. Ed Byrne, 18. Andrew Porter, 19. Scott Fardy, 20. Ryan Baird, 21. Rowan Osborne, 22. Ciaran Frawley, 23. Rory O’Loughlin.
'I let it affect me to the point of instead of putting myself forward to contribute I’d nearly sink into the background at times'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 25, 2021
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