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Kelleher’s Form Rewarded With Champions Cup Debut For Leinster

Kelleher’s Form Rewarded With Champions Cup Debut For Leinster

Ronan Kelleher has impressed in the number 2 jersey for Leinster, scoring six tries during the early rounds of the GUINNESS PRO14 ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The Leinster team has been named by head coach Leo Cullen for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup first round match against Benetton Rugby at the RDS (kick-off 3.15pm). Tickets are available to buy online here.

Similar to last week’s derby win over Connacht, Cullen has again brought a number of Ireland internationals back in for the first time this season, with some of the players who have starred during the first six weekends of the season also retained.

Ireland flyer Jordan Larmour is in at full-back for his first game in blue of the season, with Dave Kearney on the right wing and James Lowe on the left. Garry Ringrose returns in midfield alongside Joe Tomane.

Club captain Jonathan Sexton makes his seasonal bow in the number 10 shirt, alongside fellow international Luke McGrath who starts for the second week in a row.

Up front, Cian Healy starts again this week with Andrew Porter, who bagged a brace of tries in Galway, also getting the nod at tighthead. Promising 21-year-old Ronan Kelleher has been rewarded for an excellent start to the season with a European debut at hooker.

Devin Toner is joined in the second row by another one of the returning Ireland contingent, James Ryan, while former Ireland Under-20 captain Caelan Doris makes his first European start at number 8, alongside Rhys Ruddock and the returning Josh van der Flier.

The province’s senior coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We’re fortunate the opening game is at home. We’re grateful for that because we want to fill the RDS and make it one of those special RDS European games that you get very few of in a season.

“The Toulouse game stands out in my mind from last year. The energy the crowd gave us definitely helped the team so hopefully it’ll be the same this weekend.

“Treviso are very, very well coached. Kieran Crowley is an excellent coach and really well organised. They have a strong blend of Italian national players alongside overseas players which makes them competitive.

“You think about our previous games against them at the RDS, I think we drew 27-all against them last year, we lost the year before that. We struggled to beat them away recently. There’s no complacency at all about playing Treviso, we respect everything about them.”

LEINSTER (v Benetton Rugby): Jordan Larmour; Dave Kearney, Garry Ringrose, Joe Tomane, James Lowe; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Ronan Kelleher, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, James Ryan, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: James Tracy, Peter Dooley, Michael Bent, Scott Fardy, Max Deegan, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin.