With more than 30 players missing through international duty and injury, Leinster have made 12 changes to their starting line-up for tonight’s Guinness Pro12 encounter with Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade (7.05pm).
Replacements Jeremy Loughman, Oisin Heffernan, and Peadar Timmins are set to make their first-team debuts, while scrum-half Luke McGrath will captain the side on his 39th provincial appearance.
James Tracy also gets another chance to impress in the Leinster front-row, and he revealed in UCD on Monday that former Leinster coach Joe Schmidt played a major role in his transition from loosehead prop to hooker.
“Joe, before he left, kind of suggested [the switch]. I was playing loosehead prop at the time and he was kind of asking me did I have aspirations to play internationally and of course I said I did,” Tracy remarked.
“He just felt that my frame wouldn’t be big enough to carry the weight I’d have to as an international prop and that I should think about moving to hooker if that’s what I wanted to do. So I made the decision. That was it then.”
Following their comprehensive defeat at the hands of Wasps in the Champions Cup last Saturday, Leinster must bounce back to maintain their strong challenge for a play-off spot in the Pro12.
They may be severely depleted for their latest trip to Wales, but the defensive trio of Zane Kirchner, Ben Te’o, and Fergus McFadden should provide the Blues with an abundance of leadership.
They can also call on the services of Michael Bent, Dominic Ryan, and Jordi Murphy in their pack, while Richardt Strauss, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan, and Noel Reid are ideal options from the bench.
Z Kirchner; A Byrne, G Ringrose, B Te’o, F McFadden; C Marsh, L McGrath; P Dooley, J Tracy, M Bent; R Molony, H Triggs; D Ryan, D Leavy, J Murphy.
R Strauss, J Loughman, O Heffernan, T Beirne, P Timmins, I Boss, I Madigan, N Reid.
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS:
C Meyer; A Hewitt, A Hughes, A Warren, H Amos; J Tovey, S Pretorius; S Stankovich, T Rhys Thomas, B Harris; R Landman, M Screech; N Crosswell, N Cudd, L Evans.
E Dee, P Price, S Knight, C Hill, J Benjamin, C Davies, G Rhy Jones, N Scott.
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