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Leinster Welcome Back Ten Internationals For Visit Of Connacht

Leinster Welcome Back Ten Internationals For Visit Of Connacht

Hugo Keenan congratulates Caelan Doris after he scored a try for Leinster against the Scarlets in October ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has brought ten Ireland internationals back into his matchday squad for Friday’s United Rugby Championship clash with Connacht at the RDS (kick-off 7.45pm).

Tickets for this latest interprovincial derby are still available to purchase here. Supporters are also reminded that the wearing of masks is advised in the ground at all times.

Hugo Keenan, Garry Ringrose and James Lowe all return to provincial action, with Harry Byrne leading the Leinster back-line and three positional switches across the starting XV.

There are a further six changes in the pack, with an entirely new front row of Cian Healy, Michael Ala’alatoa and hooker Dan Sheehan, who is fresh from winning his first two Ireland caps.

Ryan Baird joins Devin Toner in the second row, and Rhys Ruddock reverts to blindside flanker as Caelan Doris, the Autumn Nations Player of the Series, slots back in at number 8. Josh van der Flier returns at openside.

Ronan Kelleher and Andrew Porter are also back in Leinster blue, featuring on a bench that includes versatile forward Josh Murphy who is set to reach a half-century of appearances.

Speaking ahead of the game, Cullen said: “The challenge for us is we have a lot of changes on the back of last week, a disappointing result (at home to Ulster).

“It’s important we try to be better but the challenge is quite similar against a team that is much more cohesive in many ways. Connacht are generally two or three changes week to week, we’ve 10-odd changes.

“That’s the challenge for us trying to get the group together. We talk about this block of games, we missed an opportunity last week.

“It’s important that we don’t miss another one this week that leads us into Europe next week. It’s an unbelievably exciting block of games.

“For our guys this is the exciting part of the year. There are lots of distractions as we know, but for us we try to focus and play well.”

LEINSTER (v Connacht): Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Harry Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt); Cian Healy, Dan Sheehan, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ryan Baird, Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Andrew Porter, Vakh Abdaladze, Josh Murphy, Max Deegan, Nick McCarthy, Ross Byrne, Tommy O’Brien.