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Ireland Quartet To Start For Leinster In Belfast

Ireland Quartet To Start For Leinster In Belfast

Josh van der Flier and Ross Byrne have both been released from Ireland camp to play for Leinster against provincial rivals Ulster this weekend ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Released from Ireland camp, Ross Byrne, Ed Byrne, Rhys Ruddock and Josh van der Flier slot straight into the Leinster team to face Ulster at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm).

With qualification for the Guinness PRO14 final on March 27 up for grabs, Leo Cullen’s men are looking to cement their place at the top of Conference A. The Ulstermen currently trail them by six points.

Academy back Max O’Reilly starts at full-back for his fifth appearance of the season, with Cian Kelleher, one of the try scorers against Glasgow Warriors, and Dave Kearney on the wings.

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Jimmy O’Brien switches to outside centre where he partners Rory O’Loughlin, while captain Luke McGrath is joined at half-back by Ross Byrne, who replaces his younger brother Harry (head injury) in the number 10 jersey.

Ed Byrne, James Tracy and Ruddock make it five personnel changes from last Sunday’s game against Glasgow. Michael Bent continues at tighthead prop.

Devin Toner and Scott Fardy are retained as the province’s second row pairing, as the Meath man draws ever closer to Gordon D’Arcy’s all-time Leinster caps record of 261. Toner will make his 259th appearance in Belfast.

Ruddock and van der Flier are the final two Ireland internationals released back to the Leinster management this week, the pair manning the blindside and openside berths respectively.

Last week’s try-scoring player-of-the-match, Scott Penny, will be hoping to wield influence again from number 8. He is level on nine tries with Connacht’s Alex Wootton at the top of the PRO14’s try-scoring charts for 2020/21.

LEINSTER (v Ulster): Max O’Reilly; Cian Kelleher, Jimmy O’Brien, Rory O’Loughlin, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt); Ed Byrne, James Tracy, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Scott Fardy, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Scott Penny.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Peter Dooley, Thomas Clarkson, Ross Molony, Josh Murphy, Rowan Osborne, Jamie Osborne, Jack Dunne.