Leinster v Connacht (Sat)

Rob Kearney in action against Connacht on New Year's Day last

Rob Kearney has recovered from an ankle injury

Rob Kearney returns to the Leinster team in place of the injured Isa Nacewa for Saturday’s all-Irish Pro12 final against unchanged Connacht.

Pat Lam names the match-day squad that dethroned Glasgow last week as Connacht aim to complete an astonishing season by winning their first Pro12 title.

Nacewa has an arm injury so Kearney is recalled at full-back.

With Devin Toner missing because of a family bereavement, Ross Molony will start in Leinster’s second row.

Kearney has recovered from the ankle strain that ruled him out of the impressive 30-18 semi-final win over Ulster.

That game was by some distance Leinster’s best performance of the season and coach Leo Cullen will hope for more of the same against the history-seeking Connacht outfit.


Pam Lam has masterminded Connacht’s sensational season

Connacht aim to round off remarkable campaign

After decades of being the poor relation by some distance among the Irish provinces, Connacht have produced a sensational campaign of running rugby under former Samoa captain Lam.

While talented young fly-half Jack Carty and props Denis Buckley and Nathan White are among their injury absentees, Lam is delighted to be able to name an unchanged 23 for the first time this season.

“These 23 players are the fortunate ones who have earned the opportunity to wear the jersey and represent their team-mates and the whole of Connacht in our first final,” said the former Scotland forwards coach.

“We know how tough it will be against Leinster, who have a huge amount of experience in finals rugby.

“But we know that if we stick to our structures and systems and channel all the emotion and physicality in to our performance, we have a real chance of making history.”

Connacht’s side includes Robbie Henshaw, Kieran Marmion, Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane who all have been named in the Ireland squad for next month’s Test series in South Africa.


Robbie Henshaw (right) will play his final Connacht game before his move to Leinster

Henshaw’s Connacht farewell

Centre Henshaw will be playing his final game for Connacht before his move to Saturday’s opponents.

However, Connacht’s most influential player may be Henshaw’s midfield partner Bundee Aki.

His outstanding campaign earned the New Zealander the Pro12 player of the season award.

With Lam retaining Dillane and Aly Muldowney in the second-row, Ireland squad call-up Quinn Roux misses out on selection.

Kearney’s inclusion at full-back is Leinster’s only change behind the scrum as centre Ben Te’o prepares to play his final match for the province before his summer move to Worcester.

Bordeaux-bound Ian Madigan remains on the bench after being left out of the Ireland squad in midweek.

With regular skipper Nacewa missing, Jamie Heaslip will lead Cullen’s side.

Leinster: R Kearney; D Kearney, G Ringrose, B Te’o, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, E Reddan; J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross; R Molony, M Kearney, R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, P Dooley, T Furlong, H Triggs, J Conan, L McGrath, I Madigan, Z Kirchner.

Connacht: T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, R Henshaw, B Aki, M Healy; AJ MacGinty, K Marmion; R Loughney, T McCartney, F Bealham; U Dillane, A Muldowney; E McKeon, J Heenan, J Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: D Heffernan, JP Cooney, R Ah You, A Browne, S O’Brine, J Cooney, S O’Leary, P Robb.

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