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Leo Cullen and Leinster to stick with winning formula for tough Toulouse test

Options: Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Cian Tracey

Leo Cullen is likely to stick with last weekend’s winning team when he names his Leinster side to take on Toulouse in tomorrow’s Champions Cup semi-final.

As of late yesterday, more than 37,000 tickets have been sold for the eagerly anticipated clash at the Aviva Stadium between five-time winners Toulouse and Leinster, who are aiming to add a fifth star to their jersey in Marseilles in a fortnight.

Although the clash is unlikely to sell out, Leinster are hopeful that ticket sales will surpass the 40,000 mark, after 40,479 supporters attended the Aviva for Munster’s dramatic defeat to Toulouse last Saturday.

Cullen should be able to call upon the same starting XV that beat Leicester, as captain Johnny Sexton and winger Jimmy O’Brien are believed to be winning their respective races to be fit, having been forced off at Welford Road.

Ryan Baird’s inclusion on the bench for the Leinster ‘A’ team this evening has effectively ruled him out of being involved at the Aviva, which means James Ryan and Ross Molony are likely to continue as starting locks.

Andrew Porter, Rónan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong will come up against a Toulouse front-row that’s set to include Grand Slam winners Julien Marchand and Cyril Baille.

Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan are expected to make up an all-Ireland back-row again, with Jamison Gibson-Park continuing to partner Sexton at half-back.

Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose should renew their formidable midfield combination, with O’Brien hoping to prove his fitness and join Hugo Keenan and James Lowe in the back-three.

Cullen will hope to be able to call upon Cian Healy’s experience from the bench after the veteran prop was also forced off last weekend.

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