Debuts for Academy duo O’Reilly and Smith
January 1, 2021 / Marcus Ó Buachalla
The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Connacht Rugby tomorrow in Round 10 of the Guinness PRO14 in the RDS Arena has been announced (KO 7.35pm, live on eir Sport & RTÉ Radio).
Luke McGrath will captain the side with Academy duo Max O’Reilly and Andrew Smith making their debuts from the start.
20-year-old O’Reilly, who is in year one of the Leinster Rugby Academy, is a native of Enniskerry in Wicklow and a former pupil of St. Gerard’s School in Bray and starts his first senior game for Leinster in the number 15 jersey.
In the back three with O’Reilly is Andrew Smith who is also making his debut on the right wing and Dave Kearney who is selected on the left.
Smith, who is also 20 years of age and in year one of the Academy, is a former St. Michael’s College pupil and won a Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Schools Senior Cup in 2019. He has also represented Ireland Under 20s as recently as the 2020 Six Nations.
Rory O’Loughlin and Jimmy O’Brien form the centre partnership for Cullen while Luke McGrath will captain the side from scrumhalf with Johnny Sexton back from injury beside him in the number ten jersey.
The front row consists of Peter Dooley, James Tracy, and Michael Bent, with Bent making his 150th appearance in Leinster colours, with Ross Molony and Devin Toner behind them in the second row.
The back row is an all-St. Michael’s College affair with Ryan Baird, Scott Penny, and Dan Leavy selected to start in Cullen’s first matchday XV of 2021.
On the bench, Ed Byrne and Jack Conan make a welcome return from injury.
Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):
15. Max O’Reilly (0)
14. Andrew Smith (0)
13. Jimmy O’Brien (26)
12. Rory O’Loughlin (73)
11. Dave Kearney (156)
10. Johnny Sexton (168)
9. Luke McGrath (136) CAPTAIN
1. Peter Dooley (83)
2. James Tracy (118)
3. Michael Bent (149)
4. Ross Molony (103)
5. Devin Toner (255)
6. Ryan Baird (16)
7. Scott Penny (19)
8. Dan Leavy (70)
16. Seán Cronin (187)
17. Ed Byrne (59)
18. Tom Clarkson (4)
19. Josh Murphy (39)
20. Jack Conan (95)
21. Hugh O’Sullivan (24)
22. Liam Turner (4)
23. Will Connors (21)
Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)