Leinster head coach Leo Cullen and captain Isa Nacewa left the province’s base in UCD this afternoon together with the rest of the Leinster touring party for the first stage of their trip to South Africa.
Leinster play the Southern Kings this coming Saturday in Port Elizabeth (kick-off 2.15pm local time – live on TG4) and the Toyota Cheetahs on Friday week in Bloemfontein (kick-off 8pm – live on Sky Sports Action) in rounds 3 and 4 of the GUINNESS PRO14.
In total, Leo Cullen has named 28 players and they leave Dublin this evening, arriving into Johannesburg tomorrow morning. Those ruled out through injury include Dan Leavy (ankle), Rob Kearney (hamstring), Peadar Timmins (quad), Jamie Heaslip (lower back), Richardt Strauss (knee), Tom Daly (knee) and Garry Ringrose (shoulder).
Reflecting the excitement amongst the travelling squad, Ireland-capped hooker James Tracy said: “Everyone is buzzing about it. Going anywhere different is always exciting and getting to play rugby there as well is even better. We’re all pretty pumped to get down there but we’re under no illusion even though they haven’t had too much luck so far that they will be tough to beat at home.
“The league has shown, and rugby has shown, that any team at home are a different animal to away. From the perspective of the Cheetahs and the Kings, I’m sure as a player group it has been tough to come together and be playing on the other side of the world in the space of a couple of weeks.
“It all happened very fast for them. There’s a bit of a period where you can understand if a few results didn’t go their way but I know from watching video that they can play rugby. They have a lot of good players and we’re under no illusions – it’s going to be tough over there.”
Cullen also confirmed that lock Ian Nagle has had a procedure on a pectoral muscle injury picked up in training and will be out of action for up to 12 weeks. Two more of the province’s second rows, Devin Toner and Scott Fardy, were not considered for selection as both of their wives are due to give birth in the next few weeks.
LEINSTER Squad (South Africa Tour) – Backs (13): Adam Byrne, Ross Byrne, Joey Carbery, Barry Daly, Dave Kearney, Jamison Gibson-Park, Jordan Larmour, Cathal Marsh, Rory O’Loughlin, Fergus McFadden, Luke McGrath, Isa Nacewa (capt), Noel Reid.
Forwards (15): Michael Bent, Ed Byrne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Max Deegan, Peter Dooley, Cian Healy, Mick Kearney, Ross Molony, Jordi Murphy, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, James Tracy, Josh van der Flier.
LEINSTER Travel Schedule:
Tuesday, September 12 – depart Dublin for Johannesburg
Thursday, September 14 – travel to Port Elizabeth
Saturday, September 16 – Leinster v Southern Kings, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (kick-off 2.15pm)
Sunday, September 17 – travel to Cape Town
Thursday, September 21 – travel to Bloemfontein
Friday, September 22 – Leinster v Toyota Cheetahs, Toyota Stadium (kick-off 8pm)
Saturday, September 23 – depart