Rob Kearney is back from ‘a bad dead leg’ to lead Leinster out in front of a capacity crowd as they kick off 2019 by hosting provincial rivals Ulster at the RDS on Saturday (kick-off 5.15pm).
With 14 personnel changes from last Saturday’s 26-17 loss to Munster, Adam Byrne comes in on the right wing as does Barry Daly on the left. Daly has recovered from the knee injury that forced his premature withdrawal during the first round win in Cardiff.
Noel Reid, the only player who is retained from the Limerick game, is joined by Mullingar native Conor O’Brien in the centre, while Skerries youngster Ciaran Frawley and Jamison Gibson-Park form the province’s half-back pairing for their first match of 2019.
There is a welcome return for experienced loosehead Jack McGrath, who has recovered from a hip injury to take his place in the front row alongside fellow internationals Sean Cronin and Andrew Porter. Ross Molony and Mick Kearney are selected together in the second row.
19-year-old Academy flanker Scott Penny, who touched down against the Ospreys and the Dragons recently, is part of a freshened up back row along with Josh Murphy and Max Deegan. Another Academy talent, 21-year-old lock Oisin Dowling, is poised to make his Leinster debut off the bench.
LEINSTER (v Ulster): Rob Kearney (capt); Adam Byrne, Conor O’Brien, Noel Reid, Barry Daly; Ciaran Frawley, Jamison Gibson-Park; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Mick Kearney, Josh Murphy, Scott Penny, Max Deegan.
Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Michael Bent, Oisin Dowling, Caelan Doris, Hugh O’Sullivan, Ross Byrne, Jimmy O’Brien.