Sunday, 6 April 2014

Toulon v Leinster - Preview

Leinster have made four changes for Sunday's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Toulon in France.

Prop Cian Healy (ankle) and flanker Rhys Ruddock (calf) return to the pack while wing Dave Kearney replaces Luke Fitzgerald after shaking off a knock.

The final change is in the half-backs, with Jimmy Gopperth selected at fly-half in place of Ian Madigan,

Jonny Wilkinson returns to lead the defending champions, with centre Matt Giteau also back in the side.

Healy makes a first start since Ireland's Six Nations triumph in Paris three weeks ago.

Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy are once again the second row combination with Leo Cullen held in reserve.

Ruddock is back in place of Kevin McLaughlin, with Shane Jennings and captain Jamie Heaslip completing the back row.

In the centre Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll continue their record-breaking partnership.

"This is a huge battle and we are under no illusions - going down to the Stade Felix Mayol is not for the faint hearted," said Leinster coach Matt O'Connor.

"We have huge respect for what they bring to the contest. They are the current Heineken Cup champions and rightly favourites.

"But we are ready for the battle. We have a fit squad that is relishing the enormity of the challenge that we face.

"This will be a squad effort and this squad has experience of big games and of grinding out big results when the odds are against them.

"Our squad is full of guys who understand the psychology of cup rugby and like our opponents have been to the summit of this amazing competition and want to revisit it."

Toulon: D Armitage; D Mitchell, M Bastareaud, M Giteau, D Smith; J Wilkinson (capt), S Tillous-Borde; X Chiocci, C Burden, C Hayman, D Rossouw, J Suta, J Smith, JF Lobbe, S Armitage.
Replacements: J-C Orioli, F Fresia, M Castrogiovanni, V Bruni, B Habana, M Mermoz, M Claassens, K Mikautadze.

Leinster: R Kearney, F McFadden, B O'Drsicoll, G D'Arcy, D Kearney, J Gopperth, E Reddan, C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross, D Toner, M McCarthy, R Ruddock, S Jennings, J Heaslip (capt).
Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, M Moore, L Cullen, J Murphy, I Boss, I Madigan, Z Kirchner.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

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