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Published: 12:16 | 11/10/18

Leinster ring the changes

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has rung the changes to his starting XV ahead of their Heineken Champions Cup opener against Wasps on Friday night.

There are nine changes to the side that defeated Munster 32-22 in the Guinness PRO14 last weekend with Johnny Sexton returning to captain the province as they begin the defence of their Champions Cup title.

Sexton will start in a half-back partnership with Luke McGrath, who replaces the Jamison Gibson-Park, who picked up an ankle injury in the win over their inter-provincial rivals.

Garry Ringrose comes in to start at outside-centre while Robbie Henshaw is retained at inside centre, while Jordan Larmour's inclusion on the right wing is the only change to the back three as Rob Kearney and James Lowe are retained.

There is a new front row with Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong starting alongside Sean Cronin, while it's as you were in the second row as Devin Toner locks down with James Ryan.

In the back row, Dan Leavy moves from openside to blindside with Josh van der Flier starting at openside and Jack Conan getting the nod at number 8. The changes mean Sean O'Brien must settle for a place on the bench, although there is no place in the matchday squad for last week's captain Rhys Ruddock.

Wasps, meanwhile, welcome back a number of players for their trip to the RDS as Brad Shields, Lima Sopoaga and Willie Le Roux are named in the starting XV.

Shields has recovered from a cheekbone injury to take his place in the back row alongside Nizaam Carr and Thomas Young. Nathan Hughes has been ruled out of the game through suspension.

Sopoaga joins Joe Simpson in the half-back line after recovering from a neck spasm, while Le Roux has passed the return-to-play protocol to start at full-back.

Leinster (XV v Wasps): R Kearney; J Larmour, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, J Lowe; J Sexton, L McGrath; C Healy, S Cronin, T Furlong, D Toner, J Ryan, D Leavy, J van der Flier, J Conan.

Replacements: J Tracy, J McGrath, A Porter, S Fardy, S O'Brien, N McCarthy, R Byrne, J Tomane.

Wasps (XV v Leinster): W Le Roux; J Bassett, J de Jongh, M Le Bourgeois, E Daly; L Sopoaga, J Simpson; Z Zhvania, T Taylor, K Brookes, W Rowlands, J Gaskell, B Shields, T Young, N Carr.

Replacements: T Cruse, B Harris, W Stuart, K Myhall, A Johnson, C Hampson, B Searle, R Miller.

Leinster begin the defence of their Heineken Champions Cup title when they host Wasps at the RDS on Friday, 12 October live on BT Sport 1 on the eir sport pack [Kick-off 7.45pm]. Subscribe here

Image: Inpho Photography/Dan Sheridan

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