Heineken Champions Cup: Leinster v Wasps

Johnny Sexton

Heineken Champions Cup Pool 1
Venue: RDS Arena, Dublin Date: 12 October Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live score updates on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC local radio and on the BBC Sport website

Defending champions Leinster have recalled a number of their Ireland internationals for Friday’s Champions Cup opener against Wasps.

Johnny Sexton captains the side, with Luke McGrath coming in at scrum-half.

Jordan Larmour and Garry Ringrose come into the back division, with Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong forming a new front-row partnership.

Brad Shields, Lima Sopoaga and Willie Le Roux return to Wasps’ starting line-up after Saturday’s loss to Gloucester.

After starting Leinster’s win over Munster last Saturday, Sean O’Brien is among the replacements while Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan are named in the back row, with Dan Leavy moving from openside to blindside.

Leinster beat Racing 92 in last year’s final and have begun their Pro14 defence in impressive style, leading Conference B with six wins from their opening seven matches.

Shields has recovered from a cheekbone injury to start in Wasps’ back row alongside Nizaam Carr and Thomas Young, who makes his first start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Flanker Nathan Hughes misses out through suspension as the England international waits to discover if he will be punished for punching Gloucester forward Lewis Ludlow.

Sopoaga (neck) is fit to play while South Africa full-back Le Roux returns from Rugby Championship duty having passed the return-to-play protocols after undergoing a head injury assessment (HIA) last weekend.

Joe Simpson is recalled in place of Dan Robson, who is out for approximately three months with an ankle injury, while Michael Le Bourgeois is added to the centres. Elliot Daly moves to the wing in place of Christian Wade (illness) and Georgian prop Zurabi Zhvania is handed a starting spot in the front row.

Wasps’ director of rugby Dai Young said: “We’ve had the kick in the backside going into this game. It’s up to us to respond.

“It adds some intensity when you think about who you are playing. They’ve certainly got a quality team. You don’t win the European Cup by accident.

“We’re under no illusions, we’re not going there as favourites but we’re looking forward to it. It’s a great game for us to be a part of.”

Leinster: Kearney; Larmour, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe; Sexton (c), McGrath; Healy, Cronin, Furlong; Toner, Ryan; Leavy, Van der Flier, Conan.

Replacements: Tracy, McGrath, Porter, Fardy, O’Brien, McCarthy, Byrne, Tomane.

Wasps: Le Roux; Bassett, De Jongh, Le Bourgeois, Daly (c); Sopoaga, Simpson; Zhvania, Taylor, Brookes; Rowlands, Gaskell; Shields, Young, Carr.

Replacements: Cruse, Harris, Stuart, Myall, Johnson, Hampson, Searle, Miller.

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