Academy lock Ryan Baird is one of eight players drafted into the Leinster team to play Glasgow Warriors in the GUINNESS PRO14 at the RDS on Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm).
Tickets for the meeting of last season’s PRO14 finalists are available to buy here from Ticketmaster.
The 20-year-old Baird, who impressed off the bench against the Ospreys last week, joins stand-in captain Scott Fardy for his second senior start. He previously started against the Dragons in November.
Head coach Leo Cullen also gives a start to Academy out-half Harry Byrne, while Dave Kearney, Luke McGrath, Will Connors and Max Deegan are all back in blue after being released from the Ireland camp.
Kearney links up with Hugo Keenan and James Lowe in the back-three, and the injured Conor O’Brien (hamstring) makes way for Joe Tomane who partners Jimmy O’Brien in midfield.
Byrne and McGrath complete the Conference A leaders’ back-line, with Sean Cronin, the most-capped player in the starting XV with 180 appearances, combining with Peter Dooley and Michael Bent in the front row.
Josh Murphy, one of the province’s try scorers in the last round, is retained in the back row alongside Connors and Deegan. Blindside Connors scored two tries and was the man-of-the-match in his last outing at the RDS, against the Toyota Cheetahs.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s heavyweight clash, Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi said: “Last week in Neath was a great experience for the players, difficult conditions to play in on an old-school pitch, but the most pleasing aspect was the result.
“It’s good to be on a winning streak but it’s more about performance. And we know that we have a lot to improve if we want to keep on winning. We have a lot to improve for Friday night because Glasgow are a tough, tough team to play against.
“They have been one of the teams that have been up there in the last couple of years, really playing good rugby. Maybe they didn’t start that well this season, but in the last couple of games they’ve been having not only good results but good performances.
“We’ve created a kinda rivalry with them and we know they’ve not scared of coming to the RDS – last time they came they beat us, having a really good game.”
LEINSTER (v Glasgow Warriors): Hugo Keenan; Dave Kearney, Jimmy O’Brien, Joe Tomane, James Lowe; Harry Byrne, Luke McGrath; Peter Dooley, Sean Cronin, Michael Bent, Ryan Baird, Scott Fardy (capt), Josh Murphy, Will Connors, Max Deegan.
Replacements: James Tracy, Michael Milne, Jack Aungier, Jack Dunne, Rhys Ruddock, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ciaran Frawley, Fergus McFadden.