Head Coach Noel McNamara has named the Leinster ‘A’ team to face English Championship leaders Bristol Rugby in Round 3 of the British & Irish Cup at Ashton Gate on Friday night (KO 7.45pm).
Bryan Byrne will captain the side from the front row alongside Peter Dooley and Vakh Abdaladze, who made his senior debut in the bonus point win over Benetton Rugby last week in the Guinness PRO14.
Another player who recently made his senior debut, Josh Murphy, starts in the second row with Ian Nagle.
There is further PRO14 experience in the back row with Peadar Timmins (eight appearances) and Max Deegan (nine appearances) both selected. They start with Will Connors who is named as the openside flanker.
There are three changes in the back line from the 29-10 win over Cardiff Blues Premiership Select in October.
Charlie Rock comes in for Nick McCarthy at scrum-half with Cathal Marsh keeping his place as the starting 10.
In the centre Conor O’Brien, who made his senior debut against Dragons last month, shifts from 13 to 12 with Gavin Mullin coming in to start at outside centre.
Versatile back Ciarán Frawley, who started at inside centre last time out, moves to full-back while former Ireland U20 captain Jack Kelly starts on the right wing.
Tommy O’Brien starts on the left wing, as he did against Cardiff Blues, to complete the back three.
Ronan Kelleher and Ed Byrne are named as the front row replacements on the bench with Cormac Daly and Caelan Doris also selected.
Ian Fitzpatrick and Hugo Keenan are also named among the replacements having competed with the Ireland Men’s 7s at the Dubai 7s Invitational Tournament last weekend. Ireland started the Dubai 7s with two wins and a defeat. They lost out to the SA 7s Academy in the Cup Quarter-Final but finished the tournament strongly with back-to-back wins.
Finally, Hugh O’Sullivan is named on the bench. O’Sullivan started at scrum-half in the win away to Doncaster Knights and made an appearance from the bench in Round 2 against the Blues Premiership Select.
Speaking ahead of the game against Bristol, McNamara reflected on the performances of his team in the first two rounds and spoke about the challenge of heading to Ashton Gate.
“We were pleased with the two performances as much as the results in the first two games,” the head coach said, speaking to leinsterrugby.ie.
“It’s a good position to be in, but we’re cognizant of the challenge we face over the course of the next two weekends against what essentially is the best team in the Championship as things stand.
“We’ve got a young back line, led by Cathal Marsh who has a lot of experience. We have the likes of Tommy O’Brien who’s still Under-20, Gavin Mullin who’s pretty new to this level and Jack Kelly, last year’s Ireland U20 captain, is involved as well. Conor O’Brien was recently capped for Leinster. Ciarán Frawley is a good footballer, he showed in the two games previously that he can play at 12 and he’s played at 15 as well It’s young but it’s exciting and we’re looking forward to seeing how they go. We have a young but experienced pack who will need to be at their best this weekend as well.
“[Bristol] probably rotated their squad a little bit in the first two B&I games. We’re expecting them to go strong this weekend. We’re looking forward to the challenge at Ashton Gate. We’ll be facing a team that is very high in confidence and a team that have a particular style that they’re very comfortable in. It’s a huge challenge for us, but, equally, one that we’re really looking forward to.”
Leinster ‘A’ face Bristol at Donnybrook Stadium on Friday, 15th December (KO 7.30pm). Tickets will be available on the gate from €10 for adults and €5 for under-18s.
15. Ciarán Frawley
14. Jack Kelly
13. Gavin Mullin
12. Conor O’Brien
11. Tommy O’Brien
10. Cathal Marsh
9. Charlie Rock
1. Peter Dooley
2. Bryan Byrne CAPTAIN
3. Vakh Abdaladze
4. Josh Murphy
5. Ian Nagle
6. Peadar Timmins
7. Will Connors
8. Max Deegan
16. Ronan Kelleher
17. Ed Byrne
18. Cormac Daly
19. Caelan Doris
20. Hugh O’Sullivan
21. Ian Fitzpatrick
22. Hugo Keenan