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Sexton returns for Leinster as defending champions Saracens name team for Dublin

(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Johnny Sexton has returned to the starting line-up to skipper Leinster in Saturday’s eagerly-awaited Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against defending champion Saracens who will be captained by Jackson Wray in his 250th appearance for the English club. 

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Sexton was benched for last weekend’s Guinness PRO14 final win over Ulster but he now comes into an XV that heralds European debuts for Hugo Keenan and Will Connors, with the potential for a third with Ryan Baird chosen on the bench.  

Leinster have made four changes from the win over Ulster. Aside from the inclusion of Sexton, Luke McGrath, Sean Cronin and Will Connors all step up for a quarter-final that will be played behind closed doors at the Aviva Stadium. 

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RugbyPass brings you Game Day, the behind the scenes documentary that shows the vibrancy of a packed Aviva Stadium in Dublin

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RugbyPass brings you Game Day, the behind the scenes documentary that shows the vibrancy of a packed Aviva Stadium in Dublin

With skipper Owen Farrell suspended following his red card in recent Premiership action, Saracens will be led by 29-year-old Wray who made his debut in 2008. Farrell is replaced at out-half by Alex Goode while all the familiar names in the pack, the likes of Maro Itoje, Jamie George and the Vunipola brothers, are all included.

Saracens are aiming to bring an end to Leinster’s 16-month unbeaten streak which stretches back to the last time the teams met, the May 2019 European final in Newcastle. 

LEINSTER: 15. Jordan Larmour; 14. Hugo Keenan, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. James Lowe; 10. Johnny Sexton (capt), 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. Reps: 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.

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SARACENS: 15. Elliot Daly; 14. Alex Lewington, 13. Duncan Taylor, 12. Brad Barritt, 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. Reps: 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 

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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