McGrath to captain while Byrne reaches century of caps
April 30, 2021 / Marcus Ó Buachalla
The Leinster Rugby team, proudly sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face La Rochelle in the semi-final of the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday in the Stade Marcel Deflandre has been announced by head coach Leo Cullen (KO 4pm local/3pm Irish, live on BT Sport & RTÉ Radio).
Having led the side to PRO14 glory only a few weeks ago, Luke McGrath will again captain the side in the absence of Johnny Sexton, while Ross Byrne will make his 100th appearance for the club.
Similar to the win away to Exeter in the last round, Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour and James Lowe is the back three selected by Cullen. They scored three tries between them in the win in Sandy Park.
Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are the centres, with McGrath captaining the side from scrum half and Ross Byrne winning cap 100 in the number 10 jersey.
Byrne made his Leinster Rugby debut off the bench away to Edinburgh in Leo Cullen’s first game in charge in September 2015. He would make his first start a month later at out-half against Scarlets.
He would have to wait until the following campaign for his European debut, coming off the bench in December 2016, away to Northampton early in the first half and delivering a commanding 64-minute performance.
To date, he has scored five tries and a total of 612 points as well as winning 13 caps for his country.
The 26-year-old former St. Michael’s College man will make his third start from four European games this season when he lines up at 10 on Sunday.
In the pack Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong start in the front row for Cullen, with Devin Toner and James Ryan behind them in the second row.
In the back row, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan all start this week having missed the game against Munster last weekend.
On the bench, both Rowan Osborne (hand) and Ciarán Frawley (hamstring) have recovered from injury to take their place in the match day 23, while Andrew Porter is in line to win his 75th cap for Leinster.
Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets)
15. Hugo Keenan (26)
14. Jordan Larmour (57)
13. Garry Ringrose (81)
12. Robbie Henshaw (55)
11. James Lowe (51)
10. Ross Byrne (99)
9. Luke McGrath (146) CAPTAIN
1. Cian Healy (228)
2. Rónan Kelleher (21)
3. Tadhg Furlong (111)
4. Devin Toner (263)
5. James Ryan (46)
6. Rhys Ruddock (187)
7. Josh van der Flier (93)
8. Jack Conan (102)
16. James Tracy (126)
17. Ed Byrne (67)
18. Andrew Porter (74)
19. Scott Fardy (77)
20. Ryan Baird (22)
21. Rowan Osborne (10)
22. Ciarán Frawley (34)
23. Rory O’Loughlin (82)
Referee: Matthew Carley (RFU)