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Leinster Welcome Back Conan And Furlong For Scarlets Game

Leinster Welcome Back Conan And Furlong For Scarlets Game

Returning prop Tadhg Furlong is pictured training with the Leinster squad at Energia Park earlier this month ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

There are seasonal debuts for 2021 British & Irish Lions forwards Jack Conan and Tadhg Furlong, as Leinster field a strong team to face the Scarlets at the RDS on Saturday (kick-off 5.15pm).

Capacity at the RDS will again be capped at 75% of full capacity and only a handful of tickets remain on sale here.

There are first starts of the United Rugby Championship campaign for both Conan and Furlong, along with Lions tourist Ronan Kelleher dons the number 2 jersey after his try-scoring cameo last week against Zebre.

Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour and James Lowe will offer plenty of attacking threat in the back-three, the back-line marshalled by captain Jonathan Sexton who kicked eight points as a replacement last Saturday.

Jamison Gibson-Park, Garry Ringrose and Ciaran Frawley complete the backs division, with Skerries man Frawley and Larmour the only two players retained from last Saturday’s line-up.

Andrew Porter starts his third URC match at loosehead prop, scrummaging alongside the aforementioned Kelleher and Furlong.

James Ryan and Ross Molony are selected as the second row pairing, and there is a rare start in the blindside flanker role for Caelan Doris who featured there on one occasion last season against Benetton.

Wicklow men Josh van der Flier and Conan complete the starting pack, the latter wearing Leinster blue for the first time since starting all three Tests for the Lions against South Africa during the summer.

Head coach Leo Cullen remarked: “I don’t think we’ve really hit our stride yet in the three games. We’ve shown glimpses at different stages so it’s just trying to be more consistent over an 80-minute performance.

“There was lots of good parts even last week. We started the game well, second half good, but we definitely tailed off in different stages of the game.

“So one to 23, guys coming off the bench adding real impact for the team, it’s just important that those guys come on and fit in, and are really adding to the group.

“We have a decent team here on paper, but that’s on paper, it’s about going out now and delivering together as a group.

“Definitely Scarlets will be hurting off the back of (their defeat to Munster) last week, so it’s just important we bring our own motivations and with guys being able to run around in front of friends and family again, it’s just trying to get that connection with home advantage, what that intangible piece is.

“All the signs are that it will be (a big crowd) and then you try to get that chemistry effect if you like, where guys are able to perform and deliver well for the team.”

LEINSTER (v Scarlets): Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Ciaran Frawley, James Lowe; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Ross Molony, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Cian Healy, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ryan Baird, Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath, Ross Byrne, Jimmy O’Brien.