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Sexton starts as Leinster face first SA opponents of the season

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton is to make his first start of the season for Leinster as they welcome the Cell C Sharks to the RDS this Saturday.

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Sexton came off the bench against Ulster last weekend but make his start as Leinster face their first South African opponents of the season, the first SA side to visit Dublin since the Bulls beat Leo Cullen men’s in last year’s URC semi-final.

Leinster have named a strong team for the arrival of the Durban based Sharks, with 15 internationals starting, including 11 Ireland Test players. On the bench they have the likes of Cian Healy, Garry Ringrose, James Ryan and Rhys Rudduck to call on if things get sticky.

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Luke McGrath starts at scrumhalf alongside Sexton, while in the pack it’s the same front five that left Ravenhill with a win last weekend.  Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan and Michael Ala’alatoa make up the front row, while Ross Molony and the in-form Jason Jenkins combine in the engine room.

Dynamic utility forward Ryan Baird starts again this week at blindside flanker with Will Connors coming in at openside, while British & Irish Lions star Jack Conan is again selected at No.8.

The Sharks have named an ‘almost unchanged line-up’ for the game as they look to end their mini-European tour on a high.

“As coaches, we’re really excited with what we’ve seen [with the loose trio] over the last couple of weeks, it’s been phenomenal, and we know there’s going to be even more improvement in that department as we progress in the competition,” said assistant coach Warren Whiteley. “What’s most important for us is the cohesion of the players which is really important and that does take time, especially in a loose trio and they’ll find each other the more they play together.”

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LEINSTER RUGBY:
15. Jimmy O’Brien
14. Jordan Larmour
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Charlie Ngatai
11. Rob Russell
10. Johnny Sexton CAPTAIN
9. Luke McGrath
1. Andrew Porter
2. Dan Sheehan
3. Michael Ala’alatoa
4. Ross Molony
5. Jason Jenkins
6. Ryan Baird
7. Will Connors
8. Jack Conan

REPLACEMENTS:
16. John McKee
17. Cian Healy
18. Vakhtang Abdaladze
19. James Ryan
20. Rhys Ruddock
21. Cormac Foley
22. Ross Byrne
23. Garry Ringrose

CELL C SHARKS:
1. Ntuthuko Mchunu
2. Kerron van Vuuren
3. Thomas du Toit (c)
4. Justin Basson
5. Hyron Andrews
6. James Venter
7. Dylan Richardson
8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
9. Grant Williams
10. Boeta Chamberlain
11. Thaakir Abrahams
12. Ben Tapuai
13. Rohan Janse van Rensburg
14. Werner Kok
15. Aphelele Fassi

REPLACEMENTS:
16. Dan Jooste
17. Dian Bleuler
18. Carlu Sadie
19. Reniel Hugo
20. Phepsi Buthelezi
21. Cameron Wright
22. Nevaldo Fleurs*
23. Marnus Potgieter

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