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Cullen Makes Changes for Zebre Trip

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made a few changes to his starting line-up for his side’s game with Zebre this weekend



(Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has announced his squad for his side’s PRO14 match against Zebre at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi at 18 15 tomorrow.

The biggest change to the team is the inclusion of Cian Kelleher, who makes his first start for the boys in blue since his return to the club after a spell with Connacht. Kelleher comes in on the left-wing, while Adam Byrne comes in on the right. 

While in the pack James Tracy and Ross Molony are noticeable inclusions. 

Tracy is joined in the front-row by Peter Dooley and Michael Bent, while Molony links up with captain Scott Fardy in the second-row. 

Josh Murphy starts at blindside-flanker, with Scott Penny at openside, while Max Deegan is set to win his 50th cap for the province when he lines-up at No 8. 

Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne continue their half-back partnership after an impressive start to the season, with Byrne making his 75th appearance, while Joe Tomane and Rory O’Loughlin once again line-up outside them in the centre following an equally impressive start to the campaign. 

As mentioned above Kelleher opens on the left-wing, with Adam Byrne on the right, while Hugo Keenan remains at full-back. 

On the bench Bryan Byrne and Ryan Baird are in line to make their first involvements of the season. 

Speaking ahead of the game Cullen noted that despite players coming back from the World Cup, his objective was trying to get through this game following a week off and heading into a gruelling set of fixtures. 

“For us this week it’s just trying to prepare as much as we possibly can and get back into performance mode,” he said. 

Leinster are hoping to continue their perfect start to the season when they head to Italy having claimed three bonus-point wins from three so far this season. While for some of the younger players in the squad this is another chance to stake a claim for a spot among the first team even as bigger name players make their way back. 

 Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

15. Hugo Keenan (8)

14. Adam Byrne (53)

13. Rory O’Loughlin (64)

12. Joe Tomane (16)

11. Cian Kelleher (7)

10. Ross Byrne (74)

9. Jamison Gibson-Park (73)

1. Peter Dooley (64)

2. James Tracy (95)

3. Michael Bent (127)

4. Ross Molony (85)

5. Scott Fardy (46) (C)

6. Josh Murphy (24)

7. Scott Penny (7)

8. Max Deegan (49)


16. Bryan Byrne (42)

17. Michael Milne (3)

18. Vakh Abdaladze (10)

19. Ryan Baird (1)

20. Caelan Doris (19)

21. Hugh O’Sullivan (15)

22. Harry Byrne (3)

23. Jimmy O’Brien (9)


Ulster Rugby issue injury update



(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

The Ulster Rugby Medical Performance Team issued a squad update this morning as the team prepares for a return against Connacht at the Aviva Stadium on 23 August

Ulster Captain, Iain Henderson recently underwent hip surgery and is expected to be unavailable for a period of 8-10 weeks – with an estimated return date of mid-late October. 

Angus Curtis continues to rehabilitate a multi-ligament knee injury.

Andrew Warwick is due to undergo hip surgery next week.

Will Addison is rehabilitating a back injury. 

Greg Jones (ankle), Matthew Rea (ankle), Sam Carter (shoulder) and Matt Faddes (shoulder) are now integrating back into training, following respective surgeries, and are projected to be fit for selection on 23 August.  

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RG Snyman On Joining Munster Rugby



(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby’s summer signing RG Snyman spoke to the media remotely via conference call on Tuesday for the first time since joining the province.

The World Cup winner covered a wide range of topics, check out a few snippets from the press conference below.

Moving from Japan to Munster Rugby…

“The biggest reason I came here was coach Johann. I’ve worked with him in the past and I know the quality of coach he is.

“I haven’t worked under him that much before, even though I know him a long time. But I do know that he’s a quality coach. Speaking to anyone that has ever worked with him, it’s only positive [things that they say].

“I really enjoyed my time in Japan. From a career perspective, I thought it was a better move to come over to Munster and work under coach Johann to keep moving forward and keep improving.

“I still think I need to work on the smaller details from a technical side and working under him is great for that because he is very technical and his off-field work is very detailed.”

Adapting to European rugby…

“I think the rugby here in the northern hemisphere is very physical so I’m looking forward to that. Broadening my game a bit set-piece wise, that’s something I’m looking forward to as well.

“I think the weather will play a big part in the games. I’ve noticed the last couple of weeks at training that it’s not as easy to hold onto the ball as it is in South Africa or even Japan.

“I will have to adapt to it a little bit but I think it’s ok, I can work around it.”

Familiarising yourself in new surroundings…

“We have mainly seen the places around Limerick and we went to Dublin for a few days and I’ve actually seen the Aviva Stadium as well so it’s nice to see where we’re going later this month.”

Springboks team-mate Damian de Allende…

“I actually didn’t know he was coming as well [when I signed]! I’m very happy because he’s a great guy and he’s a hard-working player as well and I’m looking forward to seeing some good collisions from him.”

Watch our first interview with RG from last month below along with some highlights from his career so far below.

Video | Introducing RG Snyman

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Connacht Rugby announce signings of Ben O’Donnell and Abraham Papali’i



Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce the signings of Australian 7s player Ben O’Donnell and Bay of Plenty Number 8 Abraham Papali’i.
The pair will link up with the squad before the start of the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 season.
Ben O’Donnell joins from the Australian Sevens programme, having played 95 matches for his country since he was handed his debut in 2017 under Andy Friend. The 24-year old went on to score 47 tries in that time and has been a key figure in their progression through the World Rugby Seven Series over the past three seasons.
O’Donnell was voted Australian Sevens Player of the year in 2018 and subsequently went on to be the first Australian player ever nominated for the World Sevens Player of the Year.
New Zealander Abraham Papali’i arrives from Bay of Plenty where he was a key member of the squad that won the Mitre 10 Cup Championship last year. The Auckland-born duel code player started his Rugby Union career with North Harbour before being recruited into the New Zealand Warriors (Rugby League) pathway. In 2015 Papali’i signed a two year contract with the Sydney Roosters of the Australian National Rugby League (NRL).
Following his time with the Roosters, Papali’i joined Lézignan Sangliers in the premier French Rugby League competition before the 6’4” number 8 returned to New Zealand and successfully restarted his Rugby Union career with Bay of Plenty.
Head Coach Andy Friend says today’s announcement is a significant boost ahead of the return to rugby.
“I am delighted to welcome Ben and Abraham to Connacht Rugby.
I got to know Ben very well on the Australian Sevens scene. It did not surprise me that he went on to become such an important player for them and I am thrilled that he has chosen to join Connacht.
Abraham is a powerful number 8 who has all the attributes to become a really valuable player for us while furthering our options in the back row. I know every Connacht supporter will be excited to see what he can offer.”

Friend expressed his excitement about the announcement and what the squad can achieve in the upcoming season.
“Today’s announcement comes on the back of discussions that started a number of months ago and we are delighted to eventually be able to share this exciting news with all of our supporters today.
These signings bring our squad up to 43 players for next season. We have freshened up and added depth to our squad in a number of key areas, having signed a healthy blend of young exciting players who have come through our Academy system as well as bringing in some additional quality and experience from further afield.
We are an ambitious group and I firmly believe we have all the tools we need to kick on to the next level and achieve success in what is going to be a really exciting season.”

Press Release from Connacht Rugby

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