European Champions Cup: Leinster v Toulouse

Jonathan Sexton
Sexton's last game was Ireland's Six Nations defeat by Wales in Cardiff
European Champions Cup semi-final
Venue: Aviva Stadium Date: Sunday, 21 April Kick-off: 15:15 BST Coverage: Full commentary on BBC local radio and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Fly-half Johnny Sexton returns to face Toulouse in the semi-final of Leinster's Champions Cup defence.

The 33-year-old, who has had a quad injury, has not played for his province since the end of the Six Nations.

Prop Tadhg Furlong is fit after limping out of the defeat by Glasgow, while Jack Conan starts at number eight.

Toulouse have selected Antoine Dupont, more usually deployed at scrum-half, at fly-half, while Scotland international Richie Gray starts in the second row.

Former All Blacks Jerome Kaino and Charlie Faumuina are both included in the pack, with exciting Springbok winger Cheslin Kolbe also in the starting XV.

Second row Devin Toner and centre Robbie Henshaw are both in the Leinster team after successful returns from injury against Glasgow.

This is the two teams' third meeting in the competition this season after Toulouse won the pool-stage match in France 28-27 but were beaten in the reverse fixture 29-13.

Antoine Dupont
Leinster's win at the RDS Arena in January ended a 12-match winning streak for Toulouse

"There's a lot of excitement around this match," said Leinster centre Garry Ringrose. "We saw in the pool phase that Toulouse are a very difficult team to beat.

"They have a lot of experience in this competition and are dangerous in all positions. All the team are playing well, but we have to keep an eye out for Kolbe, who has scored some incredible tries this season."

Leinster have not won since their hard-fought quarter-final success over Ulster last month, drawing at home to Benetton and losing away to Glasgow.

But Ringrose insists the champions can raise their game as they seek to become the first team to lift the trophy five times.

"We encountered the same kind of situation last year, but the squad knew how to rally themselves for the end of the season. We aren't worried about that and above all we want to show our other face in the European Cup," he added.

Match stats

  • This will be the 12th tournament meeting between Leinster and Toulouse (Leinster W5, Toulouse W6), and only Munster and Castres have met more often (16 times).
  • Leinster and Toulouse have met twice previously in the semi-finals, with Toulouse winning the 2010 contest at Le Stadium before Leinster emerged victorious at the Aviva Stadium in 2011; on both occasions the winning side went on to lift the trophy.
  • Leinster and Toulouse are both appearing in the semi-finals for the 11th time and only Munster (14, including 2018-19) have reached this stage more often. Toulouse have won six of their semi-finals, more than any other side.
  • Toulouse's Cheslin Kolbe has beaten 45 defenders, seven more than any other player. Leinster's Garry Ringrose ranks fourth with 29 defenders beaten.
  • Leinster's Jordan Larmour and Toulouse's Sofiane Guitoune are two of five players to have played the maximum 560 minutes from seven tournament matches this season.
  • James Ryan is one of just two players to have made 100+ tackles (107) and 100+ carries (103). Munster's CJ Stander is the other. Three of the six players to make 12+ offloads this season are in the Toulouse squad - Sofiane Guitoune (16), Joe Tekori (16) and Thomas Ramos (12), while no one has made more than six for Leinster (Garry Ringrose 6).

Leinster: Kearney; Larmour, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe; Sexton, McGrath, Healy, Cronin, Furlong, Toner, Ryan, Ruddock, O'Brien Conan.

Replacements: Tracy, E Byrne, Bent, Fardy, Deegan, O'Sullivan, R Byrne, O'Loughlin

Toulouse: Ramos, Huget, Guitoune, Ahki, Kolbe; Dupont, Bezy; Castets, Mauvaka, Faumuina, Arnold, Gray, Elstadt, Tekori, Kaino.

Replacements: Marchand, Baille, Van Dyk, Tolofua, Faasalele, Cros, Ntamack, Medard

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