Newport Gwent Dragons captain Tom Willis returns to lead Paul Turner’s side as they travel to Dublin to face Leinster at the Royal Dublin Society this Friday night.
The Dragons make several changes to the side which suffered defeat at Northampton in the LV= Cup last week, and are boosted by the return of a number of regulars as they resume Magners League action.
Wales’ Will Harries has been released from Warren Gatland’s national squad for the fixture and takes his place on the wing, with Tom Cheeseman moving to centre, where he partners the returning Ashley Smith. Pat Leach continues at fullback, a position covered earlier this season by Harries.
Jason Tovey and Wayne Evans also return to the starting line-up as James Leadbeater and Matthew Jones drop to the bench. Adam Hughes and Phil Price have both recovered from injuries and will also start at the RDS.
Nigel Hall packs down alongside Price and Willis in the front row, whilst Adam Jones is retained at blindside flanker. Gavin Thomas returns and Lewis Evans completes the back row, starting at number eight. Scott Morgan and Robert Sidoli make up the second row, with Luke Charteris on the bench.
The Men of Gwent’s last trip to Dublin ended in a hard fought 23-14 defeat, but the Dragons went on to beat the Irish province with a bonus point at Rodney Parade later in the season, running in four tries to win 30-14.
In their last home match, Leinster overcame Edinburgh by a single point, winning 19-18, and with the Dragons having beaten champions the Ospreys away in their previous Magners League game, the Men of Gwent can travel to Ireland with some confidence.
DRAGONS TEAM FOR LEINSTER
Pat Leach, Will Harries, Tom Cheeseman, Ashley Smith, Adam Hughes; Jason Tovey, Wayne Evans; Phil Price, Tom Willis (c), Nigel Hall, Scott Morgan, Robert Sidoli, Adam Jones, Gavin Thomas, Lewis Evans.
Replacements: Lloyd Burns, Dan Way, Hugh Gustafson, Luke Charteris, Hugo Ellis, Rhodri Gomer Davies, James Leadbeater, Matthew Jones.