Johnny Sexton returns to captain Leinster for Zebre clash

The Ireland international has been out of action since November

BY Adrian Collins 12:11 Thursday 5 January 2017, 12:11 5 Jan 2017

Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Johnny Sexton has been named in the Leinster squad to face Zebre on Friday. 

The Irish international has been out of action since November as he continued his recovery from a hamstring issue which forced him out of Ireland's game against New Zealand. 

Sexton's return will be welcome news given the injury to Joey Carbery, who deputised for the no. 10 both at Leinster and Ireland level, before also succumbing to an ankle issue. 

Leinster come into the game off the back of a commanding display against Ulster on New Year's Eve, in which they kept Les Kiss' side to a single try. 

There are seven changes in total from that team, with Zane Kirchner taking up his place at full back, while Adam Byrne and Rory O’Loughlin continue on the wings. O'Loughlin's stand out performance grabbed plenty of headlines, and his direct running and pace will be a big weapon for the home side. 

Robbie Henshaw returns to the 13 jersey to partner Garry Ringrose in the centre, while Luke McGrath will be alongside Sexton at scrumhalf.

In the pack, Cian Healy and James Tracy start alongside Michael Bent, who will win his 75th cap for the province.

Devin Toner and Hayden Triggs are again selected as the second row combination, while Jack Conan comes in at the base of the scrum in the number eight jersey.

Sean O’Brien starts again this week, filling the number seven jersey, while Sean Cronin is in line to win his 125th cap for the province should he come off the bench.

The team in full is: 

Starting XV

15. Zane Kirchner
14. Adam Byrne 
13. Garry Ringrose 
12. Robbie Henshaw 
11. Rory O’Loughlin 
10. Johnny Sexton (C)
9. Luke McGrath 
1. Cian Healy 
2. James Tracy
3. Michael Bent 
4. Devin Toner 
5. Hayden Triggs
6. Dan Leavy 
7. Sean O’Brien 
8. Jack Conan

Replacements

16. Sean Cronin 
17. Jack McGrath
18. Tadhg Furlong 
19. Rhys Ruddock 
20. Jamie Heaslip 
21. Jamison Gibson-Park
22. Ross Byrne 
23. Noel Reid

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