Published: 13:05 | 15/11/19

Provinces name strong sides for Champions Cup clashes

All four Irish provinces have named strong sides for their Champions Cup pool openers this weekend with several big name internationals returning to action following the World Cup.

Leinster include Jonathan Sexton, Jordan Larmour, James Ryan, Josh van der Flier and Garry Ringrose in their starting line-up for the first time this season as they entertain Benetton at the RDS on Saturday.

Rhys Ruddock also starts for the first time, having been on the bench for the victory over Connacht in Galway last weekend.

Cian Healy and Luke McGrath get their second starts of the campaign after featuring from the off in Galway last weekend.

Keith Earls makes his first start of the season for Munster as they travel to Wales to face Ospreys in their pool opener.

Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray, Jeremy Loughman and Tommy O’Donnell are also named as head coach Johann van Graan makes five changes to the starting XV that beat Ulster at Thomond Park last weekend.

Tadgh Beirne is poised to make his first appearance of the season from the bench.

Meanwhile, Connacht welcome back Ultan Dillane and Bundee Aki to their starting line-up for the visit of Montpellier to The Sportsground on Sunday.

Andy Friend has something of an injury crisis to contend with in the forward ranks with Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux and Sean O’Brien all out of action.

Skipper Iain Henderson is set to make his first start of the season in Ulster’s opening pool match against Bath at the Recreation Ground.

Henderson is one of four changes to the side that lost to Munster, with Will Addison named at full-back, Marcell Coetzee at number eight and Matthew Rea at blindside flanker the others.

Billy Burns is named at out-half where he could face off against his brother Freddie.

Leinster v Benetton (h): Jordan Larmour, Dave Kearney, Garry Ringrose, Joe Tomane, James Lowe, Johhny Sexton (c), Luke McGrath, Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, James Ryan, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: James Tracy, Peter Dooley, Michael Bent, Scott Fardy, Max Deegan, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Rory O'Loughlin.

Munster v Ospreys (a): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (c), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Tadhg Beirne, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, Sammy Arnold, Dan Goggin.

Connacht v Montpellier (h): Darragh Leader, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Cillian Gallagher, Ultan Dillane, Colby Fainga'a, Jarrad Butler (c), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Matthew Burke, Conor Kenny, Eoghan Masterson, Robin Copeland, Stephen Kerins, Tom Daly, John Porch.

Ulster v Bath (a): Will Addison, Rob Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney, Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Iain Henderson (c), Sam Carter, Matthew Rea, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.

Image: INPHO

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