Leinster and Munster renew rivalry
October 2, 2009
Brian O'Driscoll returns to the Leinster midfield © Getty Images
The RDS will host the biggest game of the Magners League season so far when perennial rivals Leinster and Munster go head-to-head on Saturday night.
It will be the first time that the sides have met since Leinster dumped Munster out of the Heineken Cup at the semi-final stage last season, paving their way to the top prize in Europe's biggest club competition.
Munster lifted the Magners League crown in May, succeeding their rivals in blue as champions, and currently sit behind early pace-setters Edinburgh in second. They saw off the Dragons with ease last round, former Auckland Blues No.8 Nick Williams crossing for a hat-trick of tries, while Leinster inflicted the first defeat of the season on the leaders at Murrayfield.
The home side have included British & Irish Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll in their starting line-up for the first time this season, the Irish captain wearing No.13 as usual alongside Gordon D'Arcy. O'Driscoll's fellow Lions Luke Fitzgerald and Jamie Heaslip also start but there is only a place on the bench for Rob Kearney as Isa Nacewa wears No.15.
The story is the same for Lions skipper Paul O'Connell, who makes his return to action on the Munster bench. Mick O'Driscoll starts in the second-row alongside Donncha O'Callaghan as Williams' try-scoring feats are rewarded with another start at No.8. O'Connell is joined on the bench by fellow Lion David Wallace as well as hooker Jerry Flannery.
Ronan O'Gara will go head-to-head with Ireland's young pretender Jonathan Sexton in the fly-half battle, while Tomas'O Leary and Eoin Reddan are the scrum-halves looking to catch Ireland coach Declan Kidney's attention ahead of November Tests against Australia, Fiji and South Africa.
O'Gara and O'Leary will be out to provide service to a dangerous backline including new Springbok signing Jean de Villiers as well as the returning Keith Earls.
Leinster: Isa Nacewa; Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, John Fogarty, Stan Wright, Leo Cullen (capt), Nathan Hines, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip
Bernard Jackman, Mike Ross, Malcolm O'Kelly, Sean O'Brien, Simon Keogh, Fergus McFadden, Rob Kearney
Munster: Keith Earls; Doug Howlett, Lifieimi Mafi, Jean de Villiers, Denis Hurley; Ronan O'Gara (capt), Tomas O'Leary; Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, John Hayes; Donncha O'Callaghan, Mick O'Driscoll; Denis Leamy, Niall Ronan, Nick Williams.
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