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Deegan To Hit 50-Cap Mark For Leinster In Parma

Deegan To Hit 50-Cap Mark For Leinster In Parma

Young back rower Max Deegan is pictured on the attack during Leinster's recent bonus point win at home to the Ospreys ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

The Leinster team to play Zebre in the latest round of GUINNESS PRO14 action in Parma on Saturday (kick-off 6.15pm local time/5.15pm Irish time) has been announced by head coach Leo Cullen.

After a week off last week, the defending champions head to Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi following three wins from three in the opening rounds. Cullen has made five personnel changes to the side that accounted for Edinburgh in round 3.

Hugo Keenan continues at full-back after his impressive start to the season, but there are two changes on the wings with Adam Byrne coming in on the right and summer signing Cian Kelleher making his first start of the season.

Indeed, the 25-year-old Kelleher is involved in a matchday squad for the first time since returning to his native province from Connacht. He already has one try in seven games to his name from his time in the Leinster Academy.

The midfield and half-back combinations are unaltered as Rory O’Loughlin, Joe Tomane, Ross Byrne, who will make his 75th Leinster appearance in northern Italy, and Jamison Gibson-Park fill those respective berths again.

Up front, Peter Dooley and Michael Bent are retained as the starting props with 95-times capped hooker James Tracy making his first start of the season. Ross Molony comes into the second row where he links up with captain Scott Fardy.

Max Deegan, who recently turned 23, will reach the milestone of 50 Leinster caps this weekend. He will pack down at number 8 in a youthful back row trio which is completed by Scott Penny and Josh Murphy, who swaps places with Caelan Doris.

As Leinster aim for their fourth straight bonus point victory, they will be able to call on replacement forwards Bryan Byrne and Ryan Baird who are involved for the first time this season. Promising lock Baird is set for his second PRO14 appearance.

LEINSTER (v Zebre): Hugo Keenan; Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Joe Tomane, Cian Kelleher; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Peter Dooley, James Tracy, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Scott Fardy (capt), Josh Murphy, Scott Penny, Max Deegan.

Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Michael Milne, Vakh Abdaladze, Ryan Baird, Caelan Doris, Hugh O’Sullivan, Harry Byrne, Jimmy O’Brien.