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Irish provinces reveal team news for Champions Cup this weekend

The four Irish provinces have revealed their team news for this weekend's Heineken Champions Cup ...



The four Irish provinces have revealed their team news for this weekend's Heineken Champions Cup action.

Leo Cullen's Leinster are away to Northampton Saints in Pool 1 on Saturday afternoon (1pm) at Franklin's Gardens, with Ulster welcoming Harlequins to Kingspan Stadium in Belfast for a 3.15pm kick-off in Pool 3.

Munster host Saracens at Thomond Park in Limerick at 5.30pm in Pool 4, while Andy Friend's Connacht meet Gloucester away on Sunday afternoon at Kingsholm Stadium from 1pm.

Jordan Larmour is back in at 15 for Leinster for their trip cross-channel. Jamison Gibson-Park gets the nod to start at half-back, with Caelan Doris and Andrew Porter also included in the starting fifteen.

In-form Rónan Kelleher is in the pack alongside Porter and Cian Healy, while Johnny Sexton captains the side from number 10.

Jordan Larmour, Dave Kearney and James Lowe have been selected by Cullen in the back three, with Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose named as centres.

Munster have made a decent start to Pool 4 after a 32-13 win at Ospreys was followed up by the 21-21 draw against Racing 92.

Tadhg Beirne will start at blindside flanker for the southern province, with captain Peter O'Mahony moving into number 7.

There are fourteen changes in all from the side that played Edinburgh last time out. Nick McCarthy is on the bench as scrum-half cover in the absence of the departed Alby Mathewson.

There are some interesting calls in the Saracens team, as they look to focus on overcoming a points deduction and fine for salary cap irregularities.

Maro Itoje starts but some big-name players will not be travelling to Thomond Park - namely the likes of the Vunipola brothers, Jamie George, Owen Farrell, and George Kruis.

Connacht will be captained by the returning Jarrad Butler for their huge trip to Gloucester on Sunday.

Jack Carty is named at 10 by Andy Friend - whose team have a 23-20 win over Montpellier and 32-17 defeat at Toulouse to their names so far in the competition.

Butler starts at number 8 having come off the bench last week following a knee injury.

Bundee Aki has a new partner in midfield with Peter Robb coming into the side, while a late injury to Matt Healy sees John Porch moves from the wing to full back.

Ahead of the game, Friend has said his players know how important this game is.

“The back to back fixtures in this competition are always critical and the next two weeks against Gloucester will decide our Champions Cup season.

Next week will be a huge occasion but first, we have to get a result on Sunday. For now, we are solely focused on that away leg and we are travelling to Gloucester with the belief that we can win the game.

“It is great to have Jarrad Butler back in the side. As our captain he has a massive influence on the group and his presence will be important for such a big occasion.

We have also made a few positional changes to our side. Matt Healy picked up a knock in training so John Porch will slot in at full-back and Kyle Godwin moves to the wing.

We have used over forty players so far this season so we know the depth that we have and that will be tested again in the coming weeks.”

Ulster have narrow wins over Bath and Clermont-Auvergne to their name so far in Europe's top-tier competition, ahead of Saturday's visit of Harlequins.

There are five changes to the side that recorded a bonus-point victory against the Scarlets last Friday.

Louis Ludik moves to the right-wing as the returning Jacob Stockdale comes in at full-back. Elsewhere, Luke Marshall comes back into midfield.

Jordi Murphy returns at openside flanker, with Iain Henderson in again as captain.

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Andy Friend Connacht Rugby Jarrad Butler Johann Van Graan Leinster Rugby Leo Cullen Munster Rugby Off The Ball Rugby Ulster Rugby Vodafone Ireland

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