Despite already being assured of top spot in the pool Cullen has named an experienced side full of stars in order to try and claim a win which will see them go into the knock-out stages as the top seeded side.
The only surprises in the team are that both Max Deegan and Caelan Doris have been handed a chance to start the game, while in the backs Luke McGrath has been handed the role of captain.
Elsewhere, Cian Healy and Andrew Porter are either side of hooker Sean Cronin in the front-row. Cronin will hope to put in a good shift after being snubbed in Ireland’s Six Nations squad announcement this week, while Devin Toner and James Ryan slot in behind them in second-row.
Deegan shifts from No 8 to take up a place as blindside-flanker, with Josh van der Flier remaining on the openside and Doris comes in as the No 8 this time around in what is an exciting back-row.
McGrath is joined in the half-backs by Ross Byrne, and they have Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose outside them in the centre.
James Lowe continues on the left-wing, with Dave Kearney hoping to continue his fine form on the right, while Jordan Larmour is once again at full-back to complete the XV.
There is a huge amount of experience on the bench too for Cullen to call upon if needed with the likes of Tadhg Furlong, Rhys Ruddock, Jamison Gibson-Park and Rob Kearney among the replacements.
Speaking ahead of the game Lowe is wary of the threat that the Italian outfit have and believes that the results aren’t a fair showing for their performances so far this season.
“Their results probably don’t reflect the season they’ve had. They’ve been so, so close on so many occasions in the PRO14 and the Champions Cup. We’re under no illusion the threats that they do pose. It’s, for a lot of them the last chance to put their hand up before the Six Nations as well. So there’s a lot of individuals in that environment who will want to prove a point,” he said.
Leinster head into the game as clear favourites to make it 16 wins on the bounce and know that a win will seal them the top seeding heading into the quarter-finals. However, they will need to overcome a Benetton side that will be hoping to end their European campaign on a high.
Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.
15. Jordan Larmour (45)
14. Dave Kearney (145)
13. Garry Ringrose (71)
12. Robbie Henshaw (43)
11. James Lowe (40)
10. Ross Byrne (83)
9. Luke McGrath (120) (c)
1. Cian Healy (215)
2. Seán Cronin (177)
3. Andrew Porter (61)
4. Devin Toner (243)
5. James Ryan (36)
6. Max Deegan (59)
7. Josh van der Flier (79)
8. Caelan Doris (28)
16. James Tracy (105)
17. Peter Dooley (72)
18. Tadhg Furlong (107)
19. Ross Molony (92)
20. Rhys Ruddock (168)
21. Jamison Gibson-Park (84)
22. Ciarán Frawley (21)
23. Rob Kearney (216)
Leinster v Saracens: Lineups announced.
Jackson Wray makes his 250th appearance for Saracens this weekend v Leinster. He is joined the back row by Mike Rhodes, who is closing in on 100 outings for the Men in Black, and Billy Vunipola – a try scorer in last season’s European final.
Scotland international Swinson will run out for his 50th European match in Dublin.
In the back division, Owen Farrell’s suspension sees Alex Goode switch to fly-half to play outside scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth.
Elliot Daly fills in at full-back with Sean Maitland and Alex Lewington taking spot on the wings. Captain Brad Barritt and Duncan Taylor make up the midfield.
Replacements Alec Clarey and Dom Morris will earn their Champions Cup stripes should they enter the fray.
Saracens team to face Leinster:
15 Elliot Daly (10)
14 Alex Lewington (51)
13 Duncan Taylor (130)
12 Brad Barritt (260)
11 Sean Maitland (77)
10 Alex Goode (300)
9 Richard Wigglesworth (247)
1 Mako Vunipola (169)
2 Jamie George (230)
3 Vincent Koch (85)
4 Maro Itoje (123)
5 Tim Swinson (3)
6 Mike Rhodes (97)
7 Jackson Wray (249)
8 Billy Vunipola (114)
16 Tom Woolstencroft (40)
17 Richard Barrington (192)
18 Alec Clarey (5)
19 Callum Hunter-Hill (21)
20 Calum Clark (54)
21 Aled Davies (4)
22 Manu Vunipola (26)
23 Dom Morris (24)
The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Saracens in the Quarter-Final of the Heineken Champions Cup tomorrow at Aviva Stadium has been named by Head Coach Leo Cullen (KO 3.00pm, live on BT Sport and RTÉ Radio).
In team news, Johnny Sexton will captain the side with two players, Hugo Keenan and Will Connors, making European debuts from the start and a third, Ryan Baird, from the bench.
Jordan Larmour is selected at full-back and the former St. Andrew’s College man will win his 50th cap for Leinster in the number 15 jersey.
Keenan will make his European debut on the right wing with James Lowe selected on the left.
In the centre once again Cullen has selected Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose as his partnership.
In the half-backs, Luke McGrath starts at scrumhalf alongside captain Sexton.
Cian Healy will become the fourth most-capped Leinster player of all time when he pulls on the number one jersey tomorrow. The Clontarf native is closing in on Jamie Heaslip who is in third place on 229 caps.
Seán Cronin is selected alongside Healy in the front row as is Andrew Porter.
Devin Toner and James Ryan will again form the second-row partnership for Leinster Rugby this week.
Finally, in the back row, Caelan Doris will start at blindside flanker, with Will Connors selected at openside and Jack Conan at number eight.
On the bench, Ryan Baird is another player in line to make his European debut should he be introduced.
Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets)
15. Jordan Larmour (49)
14. Hugo Keenan (17)
13. Garry Ringrose (75)
12. Robbie Henshaw (47)
11. James Lowe (46)
10. Johnny Sexton (166) CAPTAIN
9. Luke McGrath (126)
1. Cian Healy (219)
2. Seán Cronin (184)
3. Andrew Porter (65)
4. Devin Toner (248)
5. James Ryan (38)
6. Caelan Doris (32)
7. Will Connors (19)
8. Jack Conan (92)
16. Rónan Kelleher (14)
17. Ed Byrne (56)
18. Michael Bent (139)
19. Ryan Baird (9)
20. Josh van der Flier (83)
21. Jamison Gibson-Park (92)
22. Ross Byrne (88)
23. Rory O’Loughlin (70)
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (FFR)
Press Releases from Saracens and Leinster Rugby
Big names missing for Ulster v Toulouse
Cooney will be paired with Billy Burns at fly-half, while the rest of the starting backline remains unchanged. Michael Lowry is named at full-back, with Jacob Stockdale and Rob Lyttle on the wings. Midfield duo, Stuart McCloskey and James Hume, will once again start.
In the front row, Jack McGrath comes in at loosehead to join Rob Herring at hooker and Tom O’Toole at tighthead prop. Iain Henderson will lead the side and is joined by Alan O’Connor in the second row. Sean Reidy makes a positional switch to blindside, while Jordi Murphy and Nick Timoney come in to the starting XV at openside and number eight.
Dan McFarland has again gone for a 6-2 split on the bench. John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Kieran Treadwell and Matthew Rea will provide forward options, while Alby Mathewson and Matt Faddes offer cover for the backs.
Ulster team to play Toulouse, Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final, Sunday 20 September at Stade Ernest-Wallon, kick-off 12.30pm UK/Irish time, live on BT Sport, Channel 4 & Virgin Media:
(15-9) Michael Lowry, Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney.
(1-8) Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney.
Replacements (16-23): John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Kieran Treadwell, Alby Mathewson, Matt Faddes, Matthew Rea.
Press Release from Ulster Rugby
Champions Cup And Challenge Cup Finals Moved From Marseille
Due to the many uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been decided that the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals will not now be held in Marseille as planned and the matches will be played at a new venue or venues.
With tens of thousands of fans scheduled to travel to the south of France, the Board of EPCR and the local organising committee have agreed that insufficient safeguards are currently in place during the public health crisis to stage two high-profile matches at the 67,000-capacity Stade Vélodrome.
As a consequence, EPCR is currently working with its shareholder leagues and unions to secure an alternative venue or venues for the two finals which will be played on the weekend of 16/17/18 October, and details will be announced as soon as practicable.
As part of this adjustment to its future planning, EPCR is pleased to announce that Marseille will now host the 2021 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals at the Stade Vélodrome on the weekend of 21/22 May, and that the matches at the 62,000-capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London will be rescheduled for 2022.
Tickets for this season’s finals will be valid for the 2021 weekend with no change to category or seating, and all ticket holders will be contacted by email within the next 48 hours with details of how to avail of a full refund if required.
As previously communicated, the quarter-finals of both tournaments will be played on the weekend of 18/19/20 September with the semi-finals scheduled for the weekend of 25/26/27 September. Exact dates, venues, kick-off times and TV coverage will be announced as soon as possible.
As is now customary during the pandemic, the matches will be subject to government guidelines with the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community to the fore.
2020 EPCR dates:
- Quarter-finals: weekend of 18/19/20 September
- Semi-finals: weekend of 25/26/27 September
- Heineken Champions Cup final: weekend of 16/17/18 October (venue TBC)
- Challenge Cup final: weekend of 16/17/18 October (venue TBC)
- Start of 2020/21 season: weekend of 11/12/13 December.