Leinster will finally get to road test their expensive new flyer tonight when Zane Kirchner makes his first start for the province before checking out again for duty with South Africa.
The Springbok made his bow for the club last week with nine minutes at the back end of the narrow win against Connacht and is joined this time in the back three by Lote Tuqiri whose involvement has been similarly limited but, in his case, by injury.
Leinster have lost the usual plethora of stars to Ireland camp but are still able to name four men with Test experience with Luke Fitzgerald and Shane Jennings among them.
Jimmy Gopperth will run the show at ten.
Their hosts this evening have lost just two men to the international arena, with captain Andrew Coombs and Lion Toby Faletau engaged with Warren Gatland’s squad, but director of rugby Lyn Jones has nonetheless made eight changes.
Last week’s 40-17 loss to Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium prompted that and Jones will hope a combination of the new faces and an unbeaten stint at Rodney Parade that stretches back to March count for something against the league champions.
That said, Leinster were the last side to depart those environs with a victory and the Irish province has shown a consistent ability to grind results out this season without ever approaching their fluid best of previous campaigns.
Leinster to win, so.
“They always bring a formidable team and we know that a challenge will be coming up,” said Dragons flanker Lewis Evans.
DRAGONS: H Amos; T Prydie, P Leach, R Wardle, A Hughes; J Tovey, R Rees; O Evans, S Parry, D Way; A Jones, M Screech; J Groves, L Evans, N Talei.
LEINSTER: Z Kirchner; D Fanning, L Fitzgerald, N Reid, L Tuqiri; J Gopperth, J Cooney; M Bent, A Dundon, M Moore; Q Roux, T Denton; D Ryan, S Jennings, R Ruddock.
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