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Leinster Side Includes Debutant Newland

Leinster Side Includes Debutant Newland

The Leinster team to face the Newport Gwent Dragons in Friday’s Magners League encounter at the RDS (kick-off 7.05pm) has been named.

Clint Newland will make his debut for Leinster on Friday and the New Zealand Maori prop will line up in a front row which includes Heinke van der Merwe and the province’s Player of the Month Richardt Strauss.

In all, there are four Ireland internationals in the pack, including lock Leo Cullen who leads the side.

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Isaac Boss partners the fit-again Shaun Berne at half-back, with Eoin O’Malley continuing his centre partnership with Old Belvedere club-mate Fergus McFadden.

The in-form Isa Nacewa is named in the back-three alongside Shane Horgan and David Kearney. Ed O’Donoghue takes his place amongst the replacements after missing the last five games through injury.

Head coach Joe Schmidt says that having the likes of Cullen, Boss and Mike Ross back from Ireland squad duty is ‘a real bonus’ as Leinster look to make it six successive wins in all competitions.

“It’s a little bit like Edinburgh all over again, except we’re a little bit more exposed. I’m relatively excited about it,” explained Schmidt.

“I can’t promise that it will work out, but I can certainly promise that the young guys won’t fault in character or courage.

“They will want to get their hands on the ball like they did against Edinburgh and show some of the qualities that will give us a bit of confidence going forward.

“I think they’ve appreciated the break. We had a little bit of time, we trained for three days last week – not the whole week – and we had a bit of fun on a go kart track at the end of the week just to break things up.

“I think when there is a lot of pressure and you finally have a weekend where you don’t have to go out physically and play the next day, it’s great just to have a pressure valve released a little.”

Ticket sales for Friday’s match are approaching the 15,000 mark and tickets are still available from Spar (Donnybrook), the Leinster Rugby Store (Donnybrook), online via the Leinster Rugby website and from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.

LEINSTER (v Newport Gwent Dragons): Isa Nacewa; Shane Horgan, Eoin O’Malley, Fergus McFadden, David Kearney; Shaun Berne, Isaac Boss; Heinke van der Merwe, Richardt Strauss, Clint Newland, Leo Cullen (capt), Trevor Hogan, Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Stephen Keogh.

Replacements: Jason Harris-Wright, Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Ed O’Donoghue, Dominic Ryan, Paul O’Donohoe, Ian Madigan, Andrew Conway.