British and Irish Lions fly-half Johnny Sexton will start Leinster’s Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens. Sexton started last week’s Pro14 final win over Ulster on the bench but is back in the starting line-up – as are scrum-half Luke McGrath, hooker Sean Cronin and flanker Will Connors.
Saracens’ Mako Vunipola has recovered from a back spasm, while scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth is also fit again. Full-back Alex Goode moves to fly-half to fill in for the banned Owen Farrell. England back Elliot Daly takes over at full-back in place of Goode with Alex Lewington and Scotland’s Sean Maitland completing the back three.
The two teams met in last season’s Champions Cup final, with Saracens fighting back to win 20-10 and lift the trophy for the third time in four years. However since then the English side have been punished for persistently breaching the salary cap rules of their domestic league and will drop into the second-tier Championship at the end of this season.
George Kruis, Ben Earl and Ben Spencer – all England internationals – are among the players who have left Saracens since the teams’ last meeting.
Saracens’ win in the final last season was their only success in four Champions Cup meetings with Leinster and they suffered a 30-19 defeat when the two faced off at the same stage of the competition in Dublin in 2018.
Leinster have not tasted defeat since losing to Saracens at St James’ Park in May 2019.
The winner of this quarter-final will go on to face either Clermont Auvergne or Racing 92 in the last four.
Leinster: Larmour; Keenan, Ringrose (capt), Henshaw, Lowe; Sexton (capt) McGrath; Healy, Cronin, Porter; Toner, Ryan; Doris, Connors, Conan.
Replacements: R Kelleher, E Byrne, Bent, Baird, Van der Flier, Gibson-Park, R Byrne, O’Loughlin.
Saracens: Daly; Lewington, Taylor, Barritt (capt), Maitland; Goode, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, George, Koch; Itoje, Swinson; Rhodes, Wray, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Woolstencroft, Barrington, Clarey, Hunter-Hill, Clark, Davies, M Vunipola, Morris.