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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 24 April, 2014

Fitzgerald and Reid start at centre for Leinster, three changes for Connacht

Mata Fifita, Tiernan O’Halloran, Gavin Duffy are all set to play for the visitors.

Noel Reid has been handed a start for Leinster's upcoming encounter with Connacht.
Noel Reid has been handed a start for Leinster's upcoming encounter with Connacht.

LUKE FITZGERALD AND Noel Reid will start in the centre for Leinster in this weekend’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Connacht in the RDS.

Ian Madigan and Eoin Reddan form the half-back partnership, while Michael Bent makes his first start of the season in a front row that also features Sean Cronin and Jack McGrath.

Fit-again Shane Jennings takes his place on a strong-looking bench, which also includes Isaac Boss, Jimmy Gopperth, Mike McCarthy and South African international Zane Kirchner.

Meanwhile, Connacht have made three changes to the team that defeated Zebre in the Heineken Cup last week.

Tiernan O’Halloran takes the place of the injured Danie Poolman on the right wing and Gavin Duffy is back at full-back in place of James So’oialo, who is also out of action.

In addition, Mata Fifita comes in for Andrew Browne at blindside flanker.

Speaking ahead of the match, Connacht Head Coach Pat Lam said: “It’s been a pretty disruptive week with injuries and we’ve lost more players with none coming back into the frame. So once again, we’ve had to dig deep into our resources.

“Coming up against Leinster at the RDS — it doesn’t get much bigger than that. The current Rabo champions, they’ve been consistently the best team in Europe for the last number of years. Full of internationals, we know their players will be out to stake a claim ahead of the November series. We know what we’re up against.

“But these are the type of games you relish and we can’t wait for the challenge. We have trained well on the back of a good win in the Heineken Cup and of course we have a plan to execute in order to give us the best opportunity to beat this team.”

The match kicks off at 6.45pm tomorrow.

Leinster: 15. Rob Kearney 14. Fergus McFadden 13. Luke Fitzgerald 12. Noel Reid 11. Dave Kearney 10. Ian Madigan 9. Eoin Reddan 1. Jack McGrath 2. Sean Cronin 3. Michael Bent 4. Devin Toner 5. Quinn Roux 6. Kevin McLaughlin 7. Sean O’Brien 8. Jamie Heaslip (captain).

REPLACEMENTS: 16. Aaron Dundon 17. Jack O’Connell 18. Martin Moore 19. Mike McCarthy 20. Shane Jennings 21. Isaac Boss 22. Jimmy Gopperth 23. Zane Kirchner.

Connacht: 15. Gavin Duffy 14. Tiernan O’Halloran 13. Robbie Henshaw 12. Craig Ronaldson 11. Matt Healy 10. Dan Parks 9. Kieran Marmion 1. Brett Wilkinson 2. Sean Henry 3. Rodney Ah You 4. Michael Swift (captain) 5. Craig Clarke 6. Mata Fifita 7. Jake Heenan 8. George Naoupu

REPLACEMENTS: 16. Dave Heffernan 17. JP Cooney 18. Ronan Loughney 19. Aly Muldowney 20. Andrew Browne 21. Paul O’Donohoe 22. Darragh Leader 23. Fionn Carr.

‘Far from vintage Leinster are relying on Heaslip and O’Brien’>

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