Leo Cullen would have been been right to enter the 2016-17 Champions Cup curtainraiser with trepidation. Johnny Sexton was out injured and Cullen won't have forgotten what happened to Leinster when Wasps arrived at the RDS to start Leinster's season in Europe last season. But today's events were entirely different than last season's drubbing at the hands of Wasps. Leinster were comfortable winners today 33-18, thanks in large part to a huge shift by their gnarled and pacy front row axis.
Player ratings below.
15. Rob Kearney - 7
Was buzzing early on and seems much more comfortable in his body this season. Still hungry to be starting for Ireland this November.
14. Zane Kirchner - 6
This match was won up front for Leinster and we didn't really see much from the South African winger.
13. Garry Ringrose - 7
Again continued to make a compelling case to have his name on that Ireland #13 jersey at Soldier Field. Was less prominent than a week ago vs Munster but had three offloads and two clean breaks.
12. Robbie Henshaw - 7
It's a strange turn of events when a 23-year-old is the senior member of your 10-12-13 but Henshaw. Defense was as robust as ever. Nine tackles made and 40 metres carrying the ball.
11. Isa Nacewa - 8
Fun day at the office for Isa, who is back to his best this autumn. Kicking penalties with Sexton out; deputy scrum half with McGrath in the sinbin. Second half 'poachers try' sealed the bonus point and the victory.
10. Joey Carbery - 7
Pretty decent Champions Cup debut for the 20-year-old, all things considered. Was smartly protected from placekicking by Cullen and Lancaster but posed all kinds of problems for Castres, especially in the open field. Poses an entirely different kind of threat for Leinster. Carried for 127 metres according to ESPN.
9. Luke McGrath - 6
McGrath still looks rough around the edges. A more ruthless club would have punished Leinster for the penalty try he gave away before halftime and should have backed himself during 55th minute attack where flat pass near the try line left Carberry flattened.
1. Jack McGrath - 7
Marked 100th Leinster appearance with a try. It might just be the moustache but it looks he's been scrummaging about 50 years.
2. Sean Cronin- 8
Continues brilliant start to season with two tries. Lineout functioned impeccably and Cronin could have earned himself an audition for Black Swan with those ballet moves en route to the try line.
3. Tadhg Furlong - 7
Contributed 37 beastly minutes to a bullying performance by the Leinster front row. Schmidt and Cullen will be hoping his injury is not serious.
4. Devin Toner - 6
Majestic lineout receiver as ever, though he'll want to forget that tackle on Dupont in the first half.
5. Ian Nagle - 7
Very strong performance as Leinster pack dominated Castres. Showed up terrifying wingspan on second half chargedown.
6. Rhys Ruddock - 6
Rugged, if subdued afternoon at the office for Ruddock. Highlight will be second-half breakdown penalty won as Castres flirted with turning this into a game.
7. Josh van der Flier -8
Tremendous at the breakdown and linebreak in 58th minute got Leinster fans off their feet. Nine tackles. BOD's MOTM.
8. Jamie Heaslip - 7
You know all the Heaslip adjectives - brittle, dependable, steely. Those adjectives exist for a reason. They were true again today.
Mike Ross (on for Furlong) 38" - 7
Was front and centre on scrum that eventually earned Leinster their penalty try. Still life in the old dog.
Dan Leavy (on for Ruddock) 52" - 8
Imperious cameo capped by bone-crunching tackle in the 59th minute. Playing his way into Ireland consideration.
James Tracy (on for Cronin) 53" - 7
Leinster lineout was 12 for 12 today and Tracy played his part.
Cian Healy (on for J. McGrath) 53" - 7
Merrily picked up where McGrath left off as the Leinster front row demolished their French brethren.
Jameson Gibson-Park (on for L. McGrath) 59" - 7
Another intriguing performance deputising for McGrath. Combined well on Carbery linebreak to nearly set up a Kirchner try.
Noel Reid (on for Nacewa) 59" - 6
Very active in attack and defense in appearance after the bonus point was in the bag.
Cathal Marsh (on for Kearney) 72" - 6
Had a couple of scrappy moments on the ball when the shape of the game had deteriorated.