Leinster Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen has this afternoon announced his match day 23 for tomorrow’s trip to Rodney Parade to take on the Dragons in the Guinness PRO12 (Kick Off: 7.30pm – no TV or radio coverage).
There is a welcome return to the starting XV for Irish internationals Fergus McFadden and Rhys Ruddock while Carlow man Ed Byrne is also in line to make his long awaited return after over two years out through injury.
Last Friday’s game against Edinburgh saw four changes in personnel before the start of the second half and with Leinster finishing the game with 14 it is no surprise to see four changes in the backs – plus two positional switches – and a further four changes in the pack.
Joey Carbery starts his first game for Leinster at full back but the Athy native has played there a number of times during games already this season most recently against both Treviso and Edinburgh.
Adam Byrne starts on the right wing looking to add to his tally of nine tries in all competitions this season. On the left wing Fergus McFadden is back for his first game since Cardiff Blues in October. Injury has restricted the Kildare man to only two games in total all season.
It’s a new centre combination this week with Noel Reid and Zane Kirchner at 12 and 13 respectively.
A day after his 25th birthday Jamison Gibson-Park picks up cap number 21 at scrumhalf while outside him UCD’s Ross Byrne plays in the ten jersey.
In the pack Peter Dooley again lines up at loose head prop with Richardt Strauss back to captain the side from hooker and Michael Bent to his right at tight head for his 80th Leinster cap.
It’s as you were in the second row with Ross Molony and Mike McCarthy again leading the Leinster charge from the engine room.
Behind Molony and McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock returns from a quad injury to start at blind side flanker while Wicklow man Peadar Timmins will make his first start for Leinster at open side having made five appearances off the bench to date.
Finally Jack Conan will scrum down at number eight.
On the bench for the trip to Wales is Ed Byrne who has made a remarkable recovery from two knee injuries.
Byrne hasn’t played a competitive senior game for Leinster in nearly 28 months having suffered two knee injuries against Edinburgh in the PRO12 (October 2014) and then against Ulster in a pre-season friendly nearly a year later during his comeback game (August 2015).
Should he be introduced Ed will win Leinster cap number six and the first since the 31st October 2014.
Lansdowne’s Max Deegan is hoping to win his second cap off the bench while St Mary’s man Cathal Marsh is in a senior match day squad for the first time since recovering from a hand injury picked up before Christmas.
The game is not being broadcast on TV or radio and the Leinster Rugby social media platforms will be the best source for up to date match information.
LEINSTER (Leinster caps in brackets) :
15. Joey Carbery (14)
14. Adam Byrne (16)
13. Zane Kirchner (80)
12. Noel Reid (76)
11. Fergus McFadden (144)
10. Ross Byrne (16)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (20)
1. Peter Dooley (31)
2. Richardt Strauss (139) CAPTAIN
3. Michael Bent (79)
4. Ross Molony (36)
5. Mike McCarthy (73)
6. Rhys Ruddock (123)
7. Peadar Timmins (5)
8. Jack Conan (44)
16. James Tracy (34)
17. Ed Byrne (5)
18. Mike Ross (146)
19. Hayden Triggs (23)
20. Max Deegan (1)
21. Luke McGrath (67)
22. Cathal Marsh (17)
23. Barry Daly (7)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR – 63rd tournament game)
AR1: Claudio Blessano (FIR) AR2: Robert Price (WRU)
TMO: Non-televised match