Rugby Leinster have sufficient experience to survive Lyon test

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Lyon v Leinster, Stade Malmut de Gerland, Saturday, 3.15pm (Live BT Sport 3)

A veteran of the European experience, Leo Cullen knows familiarity is currency, especially in France.

Fullback Rob Kearney and prop Tadhg Furlong add to that body of rugby capital as Leinster prepare for a more fiery, homespun threat in Lyon’s Stade Malmut de Gerland.

“When you see the European draw, you look to see what’s the French team,” said the Leinster coach. “Last year, in Toulouse, if you think of the game; we’d seen a lot of footage of Toulouse. Then you actually get there and there’s the cauldron atmosphere and it’s a very different team to what you analysed on the footage.”

While Kearney and Furlong will not have had specific knowledge of the current Top 14 leaders as the French side played their first season in the Champions Cup just last year, the point is about European DNA, their inclusion giving the profile of the starting line-up an able, wilful look.

There’s little not to like about the Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose pairing. Together for the first time this season in the centre, Henshaw is looking for impact and Ringrose just off his hat-trick last week.

With Luke McGrath and captain Johnny Sexton in the half backs, that’s maybe as strong as it can be while James Lowe and Jordan Larmour provide more bristling strength on the wings.

Leinster back it up with a pack strong enough to leave Devin Toner on the bench. Scott Fardy and James Ryan will spearhead the second row challenge with Furlong’s back injury has cleared enough to put him in with loosehead Cian Healy and hooker Ronan Kelleher.

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