Jump to main content


Molony To Lead Leinster In Season Opener In Treviso

Molony To Lead Leinster In Season Opener In Treviso

25-year-old lock Ross Molony will have the captaincy reins as Leinster open the new season in Treviso ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

After missing out on Rugby World Cup selection, Devin Toner will join captain Ross Molony in the second row for Leinster’s GUINNESS PRO14 opener against Benetton Rugby at Stadio di Monigo on Saturday (kick-off 6.15pm local time/5.15pm Irish time).

The front row of Peter Dooley, Ronan Kelleher and Michael Bent that started the 34-26 pre-season win away to Northampton Saints earlier this month is retained for the round one trip to Treviso.

A youthful back row of Max Deegan, Will Connors and Caelan Doris completes the pack, while Ireland international Ross Byrne and the newly Irish-qualified Jamison Gibson-Park will direct operations from half-back for Leo Cullen’s men.

Jimmy O’Brien, who scored three tries in seven PRO14 appearances last season, starts at full-back, supported by the experienced Dave Kearney and Adam Byrne on the wings. Rory O’Loughlin and Joe Tomane link up in midfield, with the selected bench including two potential debutants in 20-year-old Academy duo Michael Milne and Harry Byrne.

Offaly youngster Milne earned eight Ireland Under-20 caps and featured in the U-20 Six Nations campaign this year and the World Rugby U-20 Championship. Talented out-half Byrne, who racked up 13 Ireland U-20 caps, could come on in place of his older brother Ross against the Italian club.

As he prepares to get the province’s GUINNESS PRO14 title defence underway, head coach Cullen said: “It’s been a long pre-season, an enjoyable pre-season. The group have grown stronger together. It’s now about putting it into action in proper games.

“Treviso built up a lot of positive momentum in their season last year. A very strong home record, a very well-coached team. Yes, they’re missing some players for the World Cup but they have very strong core players there, a number of foreign players plus a number of guys that have played plenty of international rugby as well.”

He added: “A slightly longer pre-season gives us more of an opportunity as coaches to spend more time with some of the individuals, a lot of the younger players, and just understanding what’s expected in all the different facets of the game. We’ve enjoyed this period but we’re looking forward to actually starting some proper games now at this stage.”

LEINSTER (v Benetton Rugby): Jimmy O’Brien; Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Joe Tomane, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Peter Dooley, Ronan Kelleher, Michael Bent, Ross Molony (capt), Devin Toner, Max Deegan, Will Connors, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: James Tracy, Michael Milne, Vakh Abdaladze, Josh Murphy, Scott Penny, Hugh O’Sullivan, Harry Byrne, Hugo Keenan.