The Leinster ‘A’ team to face Rotherham Titans in the first round of the British & Irish Cup at Clifton Lane on Saturday (kick-off 2pm) has been named.
Peadar Timmins will captain the province when they face English Championship side Rotherham Titans in their Pool 1 opener. The Wicklow native starts in the back row with Dan Leavy and Tony Ryan.
Tadhg Beirne remains in the second row from the defeat to Connacht Eagles at Donnybrook last week, with Gavin Thornbury coming in to replace David O’Connor.
There is a Clontarf-Lansdowne axis in the front row with Bryan Byrne and Royce Burke-Flynn from the north Dublin club starting alongside Lansdowne’s Peter Dooley.
Full-back Billy Dardis makes his second start of the season for Leinster ‘A’. His last appearance came in the win over Munster ‘A’ at Donnybrook last month.
There is plenty of PRO12 experience to complete the Leinster back-three with Darragh Fanning and Mick McGrath starting on the wings.
Tom Daly, who is in Spain with the Ireland Men’s Sevens squad, is a notable absentee, so Steve Crosbie comes in at inside centre to partner Tom Farrell in midfield. The half-back pairing from the loss to Connacht is retained, with Charlie Rock at scrum half and Ross Byrne the starting out-half.
Ireland capped front rower Michael Bent is named on the bench, as is lock Ross Molony who has started five games in the PRO12 this season for Leinster.
Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie ahead of their first game in this season’s cross-border competition, Timmins said: “We’ve been building nicely and obviously had good wins against Munster and Ulster in the interpros. Disappointing naturally last day out against Connacht, but it was all with a view to building towards this first weekend.
“We showed in some of those games, like the second half against Ulster, that when we do have the right mindset we are a good team. But similarly the second half against Munster or against Connacht, when we don’t have that ball focus, we can get caught out.
“So the interpros have been a great learning for us as a group. We were building nicely, training away and now we can’t wait to get stuck in this weekend.”
LEINSTER ‘A’ (v Rotherham Titans): Billy Dardis; Darragh Fanning, Tom Farrell, Steve Crosbie, Mick McGrath; Ross Byrne, Charlie Rock; Peter Dooley, Bryan Byrne, Royce Burke-Flynn, Tadhg Beirne, Gavin Thornbury, Peadar Timmins (capt), Dan Leavy, Tony Ryan.
Replacements: Sean McNulty, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Josh Murphy, Joey Carbery, Harrison Brewer, Rory O’Loughlin.