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Leinster Ring Changes for Ulster Showdown

Leinster have made a host of changes to their squad for this weekend’s crunch clash with Ulster



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Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has decided to make a raft of changes to his team for the visit of Ulster to the RDS tomorrow at 19 35.

Following last weekend’s hammering of the Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup, which ensured they have already progressed to the knock-out stages, the boys in blue return to domestic action in the PRO14 with the first of three derby games over the Christmas period. 

There is a blend of youth and experience among the starters with centre Tommy O’Brien making his senior debut for the province, while Harry Byrne makes only his second start. 

However, Sean Cronin and Fergus McFadden return to the fold after time out with injury to balance the scales. 

Along with Cronin, Peter Dooley and Andrew Porter start in the front-row, with Scott Penny captaining the side behind them in the second-row and is joined by Josh Murphy. 

The back-row is an exciting one with Will Connors as blindside flanker, with Scott Penny on the openside and Max Deegan completing the pack from No 8. 

Jamison Gibson-Park is partnered by youngster Harry Byrne in the half-backs, with Robbie Henshaw at inside-centre alongside O’Brien in the midfield.

Cian Kelleher gets the nod on the left-wing, with McFadden on the right and Rob Kearney gets a chance to impress from full-back. 

There is a mix of youth and experience on the bench too with the likes of Ciaran Frawley and Conor O’Brien joining Cian Healy and Josh van der Flier among the replacements. 

Speaking ahead of the game lock Murphy is excited to be taking on the team that are just below Leinster in Conference A. 

“Ulster are right behind us – it’s a huge game for our Conference,” he said. 

Leinster will be hoping to continue their winning streak that they have built up this season, but know that Ulster are in fine form and will be a massive threat to that streak. For fans it should be a cracker with the top two teams from Conference A battling it out for the win and some bragging rights. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

15. Rob Kearney (214)

14. Fergus McFadden (180)

13. Tommy O’Brien (0)

12. Robbie Henshaw (41)

11. Cian Kelleher (10)

10. Harry Byrne (4)

9. Jamison Gibson-Park (81)

1. Peter Dooley (68)

2. Seán Cronin  (173)

3. Andrew Porter (58)

4. Scott Fardy (52) (c)

5. Josh Murphy (28)

6. Will Connors (10)

7. Scott Penny (9)

8. Max Deegan (56)


16. Bryan Byrne (45)

17. Cian Healy (213)

18. Jack Aungier (2)

19. Oisín Dowling (5)

20. Josh van der Flier (77)

21. Hugh O’Sullivan (18)

22. Ciarán Frawley (17)

23. Conor O’Brien (20)


Joey Carbery set for return this weekend for Munster



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The Munster team has been named for Friday night’s Guinness PRO14 clash against Cardiff Blues at the Cardiff Arms Park (8pm).

There are six changes to the starting XV that defeated Edinburgh last time out, while in the replacements there is the welcome return of Joey Carbery who is named in his first match-day squad since January 2020.

The opening try scorer in Murrayfield last weekend, Jack O’Donoghue captains the side for Friday night’s encounter as he and Chris Cloete are joined by Jack O’Sullivan in the back row.

Fineen Wycherley scrums down next to Jean Kleyn in the engine room with Kevin O’Byrne stepping into the front row in between James Cronin and John Ryan.

Shane Daly returns from Ireland camp to retain his position on the left wing with Calvin Nash named on the opposite flank as Mike Haley completes the back three at full-back.

The centre partnership sees Rory Scannell lining up next to Damian de Allende and Nick McCarthy joins JJ Hanrahan in the half-back pairing.

If sprung from the bench Billy Holland will move ahead of Ronan O’Gara for all-time Munster appearances and become the second most capped player for the province for his 241st appearance in red.

Paddy Patterson is in line to make his Munster debut as he provides the scrum-half cover.

Find out you need to know ahead of the game here.

Munster: Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Rory Scannell, Damian de Allende, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Nick McCarthy; James Cronin, Kevin O’Byrne, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (C), Chris Cloete, Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Liam O’Connor, Roman Salanoa, Billy Holland, Gavin Coombes, Paddy Patterson, Joey Carbery, Darren Sweetnam.

Player News: Academy lock Thomas Ahern was unavailable for selection after picking up a knock in training this week.

Video | Press Pass

Hear from Defence Coach JP Ferreira and Liam O’Connor ahead of the game.

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6 Nations

Huge boost for Ulster & Ireland as Henderson signs new deal



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Ulster captain, Iain Henderson, who has represented the province on 116 occasions, has secured his future with the club for the next two years.

Craigavon-born Henderson, who took up the role of Ulster captain in 2019, has progressed through the Ulster development system. Starting with mini rugby at Academy RFC, his early playing career saw him reach the final of the Danske Bank Schools Cup in 2010 with Belfast Royal Academy, represent Queen’s University Belfast as well as Ireland at Age-Grade level, before quickly rising through the ranks of senior professional rugby in the province.

Iain, who captained Ireland for the first time against France in this year’s Guinness Six Nations, made his international debut against South Africa in November 2012 and has won 60 caps to date for his country. 

A Lions tourist in 2017, Iain succeeded Rory Best as Ulster captain in 2019.  

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented,

“Over the past few seasons Iain has really developed into a leader within both the Ireland and Ulster squads. He is part of the national leadership group, captaining Ireland recently for the first time and we are delighted to have ensured that he continues his career in Ireland.”

Iain Henderson, commented,

“It has been a great honour to captain both Ulster and Ireland in recent times. Irish rugby is in a good place despite the disruption the sport has experienced during the pandemic. As professionals, we have been in a privileged position to be able to continue playing and I know we all hope to see supporters back in the Aviva and Kingspan in the near future.”

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Ulster issue positive update on Coetzee injury



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Many Ulster fans feared they may have seen the last appearance of Springbok Marcell Coetzee in an Ulster shirt after he was helped from the field on Friday night but a medical update has been issued which appears to be more positive than what was initially feared.

Update below:

The Ulster Rugby Medical Performance Team has issued a squad update ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 Round 13 fixture against Ospreys at Kingspan Stadium.

Marcell Coetzee suffered a thigh muscle contusion in Ulster Rugby’s Guinness PRO14 Round 12 match against Glasgow Warriors. His availability for selection for the upcoming game against Ospreys will be assessed through the coming week.

There are no other new injury concerns arising from Friday night’s game at Scotstoun Stadium.

Squad updates in association with The Ulster Independent Clinic.

Update ends.

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