A win for Munster would see them leap-frog their rivals in the United Rugby Championship
Leinster play host to Munster this weekend in the URC with the mouth-watering clash taking place in the Aviva Stadium at 6:30pm on Saturday evening.
Both teams head into the fixture on the back of victories in matchweek 5, with Munster squeezing past Stormers while Leinster were dominant against Scarlets, winning out by a 49-point margin.
It will be the first time Graham Rowntree’s side step out onto the pitch since the news emerged that Peter O’Mahony was stepping down as Munster captain, with Diarmuid Barron taking on the role this weekend.
Barron will be leading a Munster side that see six changes from their win against Stormers, with Simon Zebo and Jean Kleyn making their first appearances of the season. Kleyn returns to the fold following a successful Rugby World Cup campaign with South Africa.
Tom Ahern starts in the back row for the first time in his Munster career while Stephen Archer, who starts at tighthead prop, is set to break Donncha O’Callaghan’s record for most appearances with his 269th this weekend.
Peter O’Mahony and Jack O’Donoghue were unavailable for selection through injury.
They’ll be facing an extremely strong Leinster outfit, who sit top of the URC ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Robbie Henshaw and Jack Conan make their first appearances of the season following the World Cup exploits with Ireland.
They’re joined by fellow internationals Ross Byrne, Dan Sheehan and Tadhg Furlong as Leo Cullen names a well-stacked lineup for his first interpro of the season.
The home side are enjoying life in the URC at the minute with just one loss from their opening five games, an opening day defeat at the hands of the Glasgow Warriors.
However, they’ve been flawless since and with the return of key players from the World Cup, they’ll remain tough to beat.
Leinster’s last five fixtures:
- 54-5 v Scarlets
- 33-10 v Dragons
- 36-27 v Edinburgh
- 34-13 v Sharks
- 25-43 v Glasgow Warriors
Munster, on the other hand, are 3-1-1 ahead of Saturday with last weekend’s victory providing a good response from their matchweek 4 defeat at the hands of Ulster.
In what will be their first interpro since, Rowntree and co. will be looking for different fortunes this time around.
Munster’ last five fixtures:
- 10-3 v Stormers
- 14-21 v Ulster
- 45-14 v Dragons
- 13-13 v Benetton
- 34-21 v Sharks
The last time the two provinces met competitively was back in May, when Munster pipped their weekend opponents 16-15 in the semi-final of last season’s URC, where they would go on to beat Stormers in the final.
A similar result would propel Munster’s ambitions for the season to the next level as they look to send a statement to the other sides in the championship.
The match will be available to watch on Premier Sports 1 as well as TG4 or on the TG4 Player.
Munster : Simon Zebo, Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly, Jack Crowley, Craig Casey, Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron (C), Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Tom Ahern, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Scott Buckley, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Brian Gleeson, Alex Kendellen, Conor Murray, Tony Butler, Shay McCarthy.
Leinster: Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose (CC), Robbie Henshaw, Jimmy O’Brien, Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park, Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Joe McCarthy, James Ryan (CC), Jack Conan, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.
Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Jack Boyle, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, James Culhane, Ben Murphy, Ciarán Frawley, Scott Penny