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28th Apr 2023

Leinster hit with late blow as strong team named to face Toulouse in Champions Cup semis

Patrick McCarry

Leinster team

The big boys are back to play at the top table.

Leo Cullen has named his Leinster team to face Toulouse in Saturday’s Champions Cup semi-final against Toulouse, and there are a swathe of Ireland internationals back in the fold.

On the positive swing, Charlie Ngatai, Ryan Baird and Josh van der Flier have all been cleared to return and are in the starting XV.

Captain Johnny Sexton is expected to miss the remainder of his final season with the province so Ross Byrne starts at 10, again, with brother Harry backing him up. James Lowe was ruled out, earlier in the week, but Robbie Henshaw also misses out. The centre was hoping to be involved but was ruled out late in the day and is not in the match-day 23.

The big match was discussed on the latest House of Rugby [listen below] with former Leinster back Conor O’Brien giving an insight into the team’s mentality and preparations for these high stakes encounters.

Leinster team
Ross Byrne, right, and Jimmy O’Brien of Leinster pictured during the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final win Leicester Tigers at Aviva Stadium. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)

Wholesale changes to Leinster team

Given that Leinster sent a virtual shadow squad to South Africa for United Rugby Championship matches against Lions and Bulls, there were always planned to be sweeping changes to the starting XV, and replacements, for Toulouse.

Leinster defeated Lions in that first outing but were thrashed by Bulls in the second game before flying back to Dublin. Jason Jenkins is the sole player in the match-day squad that featured on that South African leg.

The returns of Josh van der Flier, Charlie Ngatai and Ryan Baird are much welcomed but Leinster are without Ronan Kelleher, Robbie Henshaw and James Lowe, as well as captain Johnny Sexton.


15. Hugo Keenan
14. Jordan Larmour
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Charlie Ngatai
11. Jimmy O’Brien
10. Ross Byrne
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Andrew Porter
2. Dan Sheehan
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Ross Molony
5. James Ryan
6. Caelan Doris
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan

Replacements: John McKee, Cian Healy, Michael Ala’alatoa, Jason Jenkins, Ryan Baird, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne, Ciaran Frawley

TOULOUSE:  15. Thomas Ramos, 14. Juan Cruz Mallía, 13. Pierre-Louis Barassi, 12. Pita Ahki, 11. Matthis Lebel, 10. Romain Ntamack, 9. Antoine Dupont (c), 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Peato Mauvaka, 3. Dorian Aldegheri, 4. Richie Arnold, 5. Emmanuel Meafou, 6. Jack Willis, 7. Thibaud Flament, 8. Francois Cros.

Replacements: 16. Julien Marchand, 17. Rodrigue Neti, 18. David Ainu’u, 19. Alexandre Roumat, 20. Rynhardt Elstadt, 21. Alban Placines, 22. Paul Graou, 23. Arthur Retiere.

The match against Toulouse kicks off at 3pm and is available to watch on RTE, ITV and BT Sport.


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