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Leinster vs Glasgow; Pro 14 Final Preview & Key Battles

Leinster and Glasgow will face off at Celtic Park on Saturday night and here’s everything you need to know ahead of the final game of the season

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(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Johnny Sexton has made a return to the Leinster line-up for their Pro 14 final against Glasgow in Celtic Park on Saturday at 18 30. 

The captain has taken the No 10 jersey back from Ross Byrne who played who played last weekend’s semi-final against Munster in one of three changes to the side.

Another change in the back-line sees Rob Kearney come in for his brother Dave at full-back with Jordan Larmour switching to the wing. While in the second-row Scott Fardy replaces the injured Devin Toner.

Apart from that it’s as you were with Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong knuckling down in the front-row, with Fardy joining James Ryan in the engine room.

Rhys Ruddock is at blindside flanker, with Josh van der Flier retaining his spot at openside following a man of the match comeback performance last week, with Jack Conan continuing at No 8.

Luke McGrath partners Sexton in the half-backs, with Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose linking up in the centre.

The ever-impressive James Lowe begins the game on the left-wing, with Larmour on the right and Kearney at 15.

Sean O’Brien has been kept out of the side meaning he won’t get to play another game for the province before his summer departure to London Irish. While Jack McGrath has been denied his chance at a final goodbye before moving to Ulster as Ed Byrne is chosen on the bench.

The visitors have strength among their replacements with Byrne being joined by the likes of twin brother Bryan, Ross Molony, Ross Bryne and Rory O’Loughlin.

Speaking ahead of the game prop Healy admitted he watched the Warriors 50-20 win over Ulster last weekend and has warned his side to be ready.

“I watched their game on Friday – they looked pretty dangerous,” he said.

While Leinster will be hoping for back-to-back titles Glasgow will want to dethrone them in front of the Scottish crowd.

For the Warriors it’s Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson are the front-three, with Scott Cummins and Jonny Gray pairing in the second-row.

In the back-row it’s Rob Harley at six, Callum Gibbins at seven and Matt Fagerson at eight to finish up the pack.

Ali Price and Adam Hastings continue their partnership in the half-backs at scrum-half and out-half respectively, while it’s Sam Johnson and Kyle Steyn in the centre.

DTH van der Merwe opens at 11, with Tommy Seymour at 14 and Stuart Hogg at 15 in what will be his final appearance for the club before his move to Exeter Chiefs.

There is plenty to call upon from the bench with the Ryan Wilson, George and Peter Horne and Huw Jones among those ready to make an impact if needed.

The element of home advantage is one that flanker Harley is hoping the fans will take advantage of when the time comes.

“Celtic Park is a great stadium. We’re really looking forward to packing it out with our fans,” he said.

Key Battles:

Fraser Brown vs Sean Cronin:

This will be an intriguing battle as both will have to be spot on with the line-out and give everything in the scrum. Experience will help both but there will be a harder task for Brown in open-play as he will need to keep an eye on his opposite number who has been a lethal try-scorer this season and would love to get another in the final.

Jonny Gray vs James Ryan:

Home advantage will mean nothing to Gray as he faces up to arguably the best lock in the world at the moment. Both put in sensational tackling figures to go along with their attacking metres they gain as well as the line-out battle, this could be the place where the game is won or lost.

Ali Price vs Luke McGrath:

These two will both be out to impress their national team coaches ahead of the World Cup later this year and a strong performance in the final could earn them a ticket to Japan. Price’s pace will be a worry for McGrath, while the Leinster man’s kicking game could cause problems for the Warriors.

Tommy Seymour vs James Lowe:

A Scottish legend coming up against one of the brightest sparks of this Leinster side. You wouldn’t bet against either getting a try and the way they defend one another could be the vital component of who wins this individual war.

Stuart Hogg vs Rob Kearney:

This is a man departing his club up against a man who could be leaving his beloved blues with both out to prove a point. Hogg is a danger in any match he plays, while Kearney will be hoping to put any fans or coaches doubts about him to bed with a solid performance which could be his last for the club.

Both teams finished top of their respective conferences and there is no doubt that the two best teams have reached the final showpiece. With only a day to go until kick-off there is still no separating the two sides as they seek the domestic crown once again.

International

SA matches postponed due to COVID variant risk

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

In a statement, organisers said that due to the sudden developments that had placed South Africa on the UK and EU travel red list the matches would be rescheduled for later this season.

“The safety and well-being of our participating clubs’ players, coaches, support staff and match officials is the foremost priority and the URC is currently working with the four visiting clubs – Cardiff Rugby, Munster Rugby, Scarlets and Zebre Parma – to facilitate their return as soon as possible,” the statement advised.

“This decision is based upon the latest guidance against non-essential travel to and from South Africa, the ban on direct flights to the UK and other home destinations and the potential hotel quarantines enforced upon those returning from South Africa.

“As has been the operating practice throughout the pandemic, the URC will continue engaging with our Medical Advisory Group, our union shareholders and respective governments to plan according to the latest health guidelines.

“A period of assessment will now be required to better understand the impact of these new travel restrictions and how to reschedule these games within the current season. Given the nature and speed of these developments URC will provide further updates at the appropriate time through official channels only.”

Source – South Africa Rugby

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Champions Cup

Stephen Larkham Set For Return Home To Australia

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Munster - Pixabay

Stephen Larkham will depart Munster Rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.

Larkham, who joined Munster as senior coach two years ago, is contracted to the province until the end of the season and was offered the opportunity to extend his time in Limerick.

After careful consideration Larkham eventually declined the extended contract offer citing personal reasons in seeking a return to Australia with his family and the additional incentive of a coaching opportunity closer to home.

Stephen Larkham said, “I only recently spoke about my desire to remain with Munster and continue working with my fellow coaches and playing group.

“That hopefully gives some indication as to how difficult a decision this has been for me. The staff, players, fans, and facilities are world class here and I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

“My family made a number of sacrifices in joining me on this move to Ireland and my girls’ adjustment over here, particularly with covid, has been difficult. I have to put them first now, and with a coaching opportunity closer to home this is the right thing for my family at this time.

“For now, my focus is very much with Munster Rugby and with a long season ahead I will savour every moment of working within this great environment as we continue to build in the right direction.”

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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URC

Munster Squad Named For South Africa Tour

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Munster squad that will be based in South Africa for our upcoming double-header of United Rugby Championship fixtures against the Vodacom Bulls and the Emirates Lions has been named.

A 33-man squad travelled in the end on Saturday with Simon Zebo, Gavin Coombes, Jason Jenkins and Cian Hurley adding to the initially named 29-man squad.

Jack O’Donoghue captains the squad on the tour with a Greencore Munster Rugby Academy trio of Alex Kendellen, Paddy Patterson and Hurley included.

The province have been preparing to play in the high temperatures of South Africa’s summer over the past two weeks.

Munster face the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, November 27 (5.45pm Irish time), and the Lions at 3.30pm Irish time on Saturday, December 4, in Johannesburg.

The squad will return to Ireland ahead of the Champions Cup opener away to Wasps in Coventry on Sunday, December 12.

Scroll down to watch how the squad have been preparing for the conditions.

Jason Jenkins (thigh) completed his rehabilitation last week, successfully coming through training on Thursday.

Munster Squad For South Africa Tour

Backs

Neil Cronin, Paddy Patterson, Jack Crowley, Jake Flannery, Ben Healy, Liam Coombes, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly, Seán French, Simon Zebo, Matt Gallagher, Mike Haley.

Forwards

Jeremy Loughman, Liam O’Connor, Josh Wycherley, Diarmuid Barron, Kevin O’Byrne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Keynan Knox, John Ryan, Thomas Ahern, Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley, Cian Hurley, Jason Jenkins, Chris Cloete, Jack Daly, Alex Kendellen, Jack O’Donoghue (C), Jack O’Sullivan, Gavin Coombes.

Video | Munster Prepare For South Africa Tour

Upcoming Home Games

Saturday, December 18

Champions Cup: Munster v Castres Olympique, Thomond Park, 8pm; Buy tickets here

Sunday, December 26

URC: Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here – Limited Availability

Saturday, January 8

URC: Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here – Family packs available for just €40

Sunday, January 23

Champions Cup: Munster v Wasps, Thomond Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets here

Video | Thomond Park Lights

Source – Munster Rugby

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