Shane Horgan returns to the starting line-up after a two month lay-off to make his 18th appearance this season and the Ireland international winger joins Luke Fitzgerald and Isa Nacewa in the back three for Sunday’s game.
Eoin O’Malley partners Fergus McFadden at centre, with Isaac Boss linking up with Jonathan Sexton at half-back.
Leo Cullen leads the team and starts at second row alongside Devin Toner, with ex-Gonzaga College SJ duo Kevin McLaughlin and Dominic Ryan joining Rhys Ruddock in the back row.
Internationals Jamie Heaslip, Nathan Hines and Eoin Reddan are named amongst a replacements bench which features a mix of youth and experience.
15: Isa Nacewa
14: Shane Horgan
13: Eoin O’Malley
12: Fergus McFadden
11: Luke Fitzgerald
10: Jonathan Sexton
9: Isaac Boss
1: Heinke van der Merwe
2: Richardt Strauss
3: Stan Wright
4: Leo Cullen CAPTAIN
5: Devin Toner
6: Kevin McLaughlin
7: Dominic Ryan
8: Rhys Ruddock
16: Aaron Dundon
17: Jack McGrath
18: Simon Shawe
19: Nathan Hines
20: Jamie Heaslip
21: Eoin Reddan
22: Ian Madigan
23: Dave Kearney
REFEREE: Andy Macpherson (SRU), ASSISTANT REFEREES: David Bodilly, Simon Harris (both WRU), TMO: Tony Rowlands (WRU)
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Magners League game against the Dragons, Leinster Skills & Kicking Coach RICHIE MURPHY said that the squad are expecting a tough battle in Newport…
“A couple of the younger players have done well when they’ve played for the Seniors. If you were to ask any of them I think they’d say that they have enjoyed their chances to play.
“The Senior guys that are there are looking after them and helping them through the games. And I think that the young lads are progressing well.
“Rodney Parade is a very difficult place to play. Over the last two years we have shipped reasonably big defeats so I think this week it will be about us getting ourselves right, being mentally ready for the game and with the league position that we’re in at the moment it’s a ‘must-win’ game for us.
“They have threats all through their team. They’re particularly strong in their back-row and they’ve plenty of pace out wide as well.
“At this stage of the season – I mean last year one or two teams had all but confirmed their places in the semi finals – any one from six teams can realistically make the semi finals.
“So, with that in mind, we’re very conscious that each game matters now and out of the last five games, we’re going to have to try and win them all.”