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Ireland Sevens Ace Keenan Set For Third Leinster Start

Ireland Sevens Ace Keenan Set For Third Leinster Start

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made twelve personnel changes and two positional switches for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 derby encounter with Connacht at a near sold-out RDS (kick-off 7.45pm).

There are more than 17,500 tickets sold and the last remaining tickets for the round 11 clash are still on sale at leinsterrugby.ie. Leinster lie 15 points clear at the top of Conference B and are looking to complete a season’s double over Connacht whom they defeated 20-3 at the Sportsground in September.

Hugo Keenan gets his third start of the season with the 22-year-old Academy player lining out at full-back. Like Keenan, both Adam Byrne and Rory O’Loughlin have also played for the Ireland Sevens team in recent seasons.

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Byrne, who bagged the province’s bonus point try against Bath last week, is retained on the right wing with Dave Kearney on the left. O’Loughlin, the man-of-the-match in that round 4 game, shifts to outside centre to accommodate the inclusion of Academy player Conor O’Brien at number 12.

Ross Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park complete the starting back-line, with the Kiwi scrum half saying: “Connacht have won five on the bounce through both competitions. We’re under no illusions they’re going to be coming in pretty hot. We have to be ready to weather the storm and go back at them.”

The selected front row contains Peter Dooley, Bryan Byrne, who has scored five tries off the bench in the current PRO14 campaign, and Michael Bent, with Mick Kearney and Australian star Scott Fardy joining forces in the second row. 

Rhys Ruddock, the most experienced member of the Leinster team with 151 appearances, will captain the side from the blindside flanker berth, as Dan Leavy moves to openside and the 20-year-old Caelan Doris comes in at number 8 for his fourth start at this level.

LEINSTER (v Connacht): Hugo Keenan; Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Conor O’Brien, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Peter Dooley, Bryan Byrne, Michael Bent, Mick Kearney, Scott Fardy, Rhys Ruddock (capt), Dan Leavy, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Ed Byrne, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Max Deegan, Hugh O’Sullivan, Ciaran Frawley, Noel Reid.