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Ringrose Leads Leinster On His Return From Injury

Ringrose Leads Leinster On His Return From Injury

Garry Ringrose is pictured in action against Shane Daly and Munster during Leinster's Guinness PRO14 title-winning run ©INPHO/James Crombie

Garry Ringrose, Caelan Doris and James Ryan lead a group of players who are returning from injury, as Leinster kick off the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup at home to Munster.

Ringrose has recovered from an ankle injury to captain the side at the RDS (kick-off 7.35pm), with Jonathan Sexton and Luke McGrath both absent this week.

With a week to go before Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final away to La Rochelle, Sexton is having further assessment after entering the return-to-play protocols in the aftermath of the recent win over Exeter Chiefs.

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For tomorrow’s repeat of the PRO14 final, Jordan Larmour, who touched down twice in Devon, anchors a back-three that has Dave Kearney and James Lowe out wide.

The fit-again Ringrose takes the captaincy reins in midfield alongside Rory O’Loughlin, while the 22-year-old Harry Byrne and Hugh O’Sullivan (23) link up in a youthful half-back partnership.

There is also a fresh look to Leo Cullen’s tight five, with Ed Byrne, Dan Sheehan and Andrew Porter supported by the 113 times-capped Ross Molony and Ryan Baird from the second row.

Josh Murphy is joined by returning duo Scott Penny and Caelan Doris in the back row. Penny is back from a hand injury, while Doris, who has had a spell on the sidelines with concussion, is set for his first Leinster appearance since January.

James Ryan (concussion) and Tommy O’Brien (ankle) are both back in the blue jersey, featuring on the bench alongside Academy scrum half Cormac Foley (21) who is poised to make his senior debut.

Leinster’s list of replacements also includes prop Michael Bent who has announced his decision to retire from professional rugby at the end of the current season.

The former Ireland international, who has played 155 times for Leinster and turns 35 this Sunday, said: “I’m aware that not everyone gets the opportunity to have nine years with a team, especially not one the calibre of Leinster so for that in itself, I’m incredibly grateful.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play alongside and against some of the greats with a team that has achieved so much.

“I couldn’t have done this without the support of my wife Celyse, my children Emme and Eli, and my family. I’m looking forward to the start of our future back home in New Zealand on our family farm and hopefully I’ll be able to keep myself involved in the local rugby scene in some way.

“I owe this opportunity and the last nine years to my grandmother Myrtle, and her incredible journey from Rathmines in Dublin to New Zealand all those years ago.

“I hope I have made her proud and my only wish is that she could have been there to see me play and to pull on the blue of Leinster and the green of Ireland.”

Leinster head coach Cullen added: “With so many demands on our squad, including multiple players away on international duty, Benty has delivered rock-solid performances season after season, as well as providing much-needed leadership and guidance for the younger players.

“There is huge affection for Michael within the group and everyone will have seen what a popular figure he is when he got on stage with ‘Fards’ and ‘Dev’ to lift the PRO14 trophy recently.

“We would like to wish Michael, Celyse, Emme and Eli safe travels and the best of luck as they begin the next phase of their life back in New Zealand.”

LEINSTER (v Munster): Jordan Larmour; Dave Kearney, Garry Ringrose (capt), Rory O’Loughlin, James Lowe; Harry Byrne, Hugh O’Sullivan; Ed Byrne, Dan Sheehan, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Ryan Baird, Josh Murphy, Scott Penny, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Peter Dooley, Michael Bent, James Ryan, Scott Fardy, Cormac Foley, Ciaran Frawley, Tommy O’Brien.