LEINSTER HAVE NAMED Ireland internationals Luke Fitzgerald, Eoin Reddan and Richardt Strauss in their starting team to face the Cardiff Blues in the Pro12 tomorrow evening [KO 8.05pm].
Fitzgerald will need to come through a final assessment on his abdominal injury before the clash at the Arms Park, with Sam Coghlan-Murray on standby in the case that the 26-year-old suffers a late setback.
Strauss has not featured in the Leinster starting XV since September of last year but having fully recovered from heart surgery in October, the hooker makes a welcome return to Matt O’Connor’s team.
In the back row, Ireland U20 international and current Leinster academy player Jack Conan gets the nod for his senior debut, having impressed for the province’s ‘A’ side, as well as in the AIL with Old Belvedere.
Elsewhere, Ian Madigan finds himself on the bench again, with Jimmy Gopperth having recovered from a calf injury to make up the halfback partnership with Reddan. Noel Reid and Brendan Macken are in the centre together for the third game in a row, while Darragh Fanning and Zane Kirchner complete the backline.
Up front, South African lock Quinn Roux is given a chance to impress alongside Tom Denton, while Michael Bent and Tadhg Furlong complete the front row on either side of Strauss. Kevin McLaughlin captains the team from the blindside, with Dominic Ryan wearing seven.
Ireland U20 international prop Edward Byrne could make his debut off the bench.
Leinster (v Cardiff Blues): Z Kirchner; D Fanning, B Macken, N Reid, L Fitzgerald/S Coghlan-Murray; J Gopperth, E Reddan; M Bent, R Strauss, T Furlong; T Denton, Q Roux; K McLuaghlin (capt.), D Ryan, J Conan.
Replacements: A Dundon, J O’Connell, E Byrne, M McCarthy, R Ruddock, L McGrath, I Madigan, D Hudson.