Garry Ringrose’s first start of the season and a debut for Kiwi flyer James Lowe give an exciting edge to the Leinster backline for the Guinness PRO14 trip to Treviso’s Benetton Rugby (3:30pm Irish time).
Ringrose, 22, has recovered from shoulder surgery undertaken in July after Ireland’s summer tour to the USA and Japan and having missed the November Test the outside centre will be keen re-establish himself as a Six Nations contender, starting at Stadio Monigo.
Lowe, 25, makes his first appearance in blue on the left wing following his move from New Zealand’s Chiefs in a back three with Dave Kearney and full-back Jordan Larmour while Luke McGrath captains from scrum-half, partnering fly-half Ross Byrne.
There is an all-Ireland front row with Jack McGrath and James Tracy, joining Andrew Porter, who returned from Test duty during last week’s 54-10 hammering of the Dragons.
There is a first start of the season for lock Ian Nagle alongside Australian Scott Fardy in front of an all-Irish international back row of Jordi Murphy, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan; van der Flier making his first appearance since an ankle injury against Glasgow Warriors in October forced him out of Ireland’s Guinness Series.
Former Ireland U20 prop Vakh Abdaladze could make his Leinster debut off the bench against a Benetton side buoyed by a losing bonus point in a 23-22 defeat last weekend at Ulster.
M Banks; T Benvenuti, I Brex, A Sgarbi - captain, L Sperandio; T Allan, G Bronzini; C Traore, T Baravalle, T Pasquali; A Zanni, I Herbst; W Douglas, N Manu, R Barbieri.
Hame Faiva, Nicola Quaglio, Alberto De Marchi, Federico Ruzza, Marco Lazzaroni, Sebastian Negri, Edoardo Gori, Luca Morisi.
J Larmour; D Kearney, G Ringrose, N Reid, J Lowe; R Byrne, L McGrath - captain; J McGrath, J Tracy, A Porter; I Nagle, S Fardy; J Murphy, J van der Flier, J Conan.
S Cronin, E Byrne, V Abdaladze, M Kearney, M Deegan, N McCarthy, F McFadden, R O’Loughlin.
David Wilkinson (IRFU)
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved