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Van Der Flier Hits Century Mark As Ryan Captains Leinster For First Time

Van Der Flier Hits Century Mark As Ryan Captains Leinster For First Time

Second rows James Ryan and Ross Molony are pictured during Leinster's 31-3 bonus point victory over Vodacom Bulls last Saturday ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Fresh from his player-of-the-match performance last week, Josh van der Flier will reach a significant milestone when Leinster play the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Sunday (kick-off 2pm).

It is a relatively settled side for Leo Cullen’s men this week, with five changes and one positional switch to the team that accounted for Vodacom Bulls last weekend.

Academy back Rob Russell makes his competitive debut on the right wing, Hugo Keenan holds down the full-back spot and Rory O’Loughlin shifts out to the left wing.

Mullingar man Conor O’Brien is back from injury and starting for Leinster for the first time since February 2020. Outside him, in midfield, will be Garry Ringrose.

Starting their first games of the season at half-back are Ross Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park, who will direct operations behind an almost unchanged starting pack.

Caelan Doris’ calf injury sees Max Deegan come in at number 8 in the only alteration. Openside flanker van der Flier makes his 100th appearance, with Rhys Ruddock continuing on the blindside.

James Ryan, who made his debut away to the Dragons in September 2017, gets to captain his home province for the first time. He joins forces again with Ross Molony at lock.

There is a second successive outing for the front row trio of Andrew Porter, who touched down on his return to the loosehead position, Dan Sheehan and Michael Ala’alatoa.

On the bench there is a return to Leinster colours for recent signing Nick McCarthy, while Dan Leavy is another player who is set to make a welcome return from injury.

LEINSTER (v Dragons): Hugo Keenan; Rob Russell, Garry Ringrose, Conor O’Brien, Rory O’Loughlin; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, James Ryan (capt), Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Max Deegan.

Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Cian Healy, Ryan Baird, Dan Leavy, Nick McCarthy, Ciaran Frawley, Scott Penny.