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Doris And O’Brien Return To Leinster Line-Up

Doris And O’Brien Return To Leinster Line-Up

Leinster back rower Caelan Doris is pictured during January's Guinness PRO14 encounter with Munster in Limerick ©INPHO/James Crombie

Caelan Doris and Jimmy O’Brien return from injury for Leinster’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup derby against Ulster at the RDS on Friday (kick-off 8.15pm).

Luke McGrath will captain the side, with Doris and O’Brien proving their fitness this week after recovering from their respective calf and hamstring injuries.

O’Brien replaces Hugo Keenan, the hat-trick hero in Galway last week, at full-back, Jordan Larmour wins his 60th cap on the right wing and Dave Kearney is on the left.

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Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw form the centre partnership in what will be the Athlone man’s first game since making the British & Irish Lions squad. McGrath has Ross Byrne outside him again at half-back.

Another of the province’s 2021 Lions, Tadhg Furlong, comes into the front row along with Cian Healy, who makes his 230th Leinster appearance, and hooker Sean Cronin.

Indeed, flanker Josh Murphy is the only forward retained from the 50-21 victory over Connacht. Doris and Josh van der Flier link up with him in the loose forwards.

James Ryan and Ryan Baird get a start together in the second row, bringing the total number of changes made by head coach Leo Cullen to ten.

Speaking ahead of the game, assistant coach Felipe Contepomi said: “Our mindset is simple. We want to improve every game and win every game, that’s our mindset.

“We don’t even know how it’s going to be defined, the tournament, we don’t know how the Rainbow Cup will end up.

“The only thing we can concentrate on now is Ulster on Friday and just improving what we have to improve on last weekend and know that we are going against a very tough team.

“We know each other very well because we are playing for the fourth time since August. That’s what we can achieve – improvement, improvement, improvement, every single day.”

LEINSTER (v Ulster): Jimmy O’Brien; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt); Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Ryan Baird, James Ryan, Josh Murphy, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Michael Milne, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Jack Conan, Cormac Foley, Rory O’Loughlin, Tommy O’Brien.