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Fit-Again Kearney Returns On Wing For Leinster

Fit-Again Kearney Returns On Wing For Leinster

Leinster's Dave Kearney is pictured in action against Ulster during the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup last season ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Head coach Leo Cullen has confirmed the Leinster team to host Edinburgh in the United Rugby Championship at the RDS on Friday (kick-off 6pm).

Cullen is able to recall Dave Kearney on the left wing, the fit-again Louth native making his seasonal debut and his 170th appearance for the province.

He forms an exciting back-three with full-back Jamie Osborne and Tommy O’Brien, while Nick McCarthy gets his first start since returning from Munster in the summer, partnering Ross Byrne at half-back.

Sitting outside them in midfield are Rory O’Loughlin and Ciaran Frawley, and in the forwards, Cullen has opted to switch up half of the pack following the frustrating loss to Cardiff last time out.

James Tracy replaces Sean Cronin in the front row, with Ed Byrne and Samoan international Michael Ala’alatoa retaining their places either side of him.

Ross Molony and Josh Murphy are picked together in second row, while Max Deegan is the sole change in the back row.

Deegan will wear the number 8 jersey this time, with Scott Penny, who got game-time recently with UCD in the Energia All-Ireland League, swapping to the openside. Rhys Ruddock captains the team from the blindside.

Cronin, Peter Dooley, Vakh Abdaladze, Devin Toner, Martin Moloney, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne and Rob Russell make up the bench for Leinster, who sit third in the table with two games in hand.

As the defending champions look to bounce back from defeat, assistant coach Felipe Contepomi said: “We try to take the learnings. Sometimes when you lose, you feel like you take even more learnings.

“It also shows how competitive the competition is. It’s getting better all the time. It’s very tight. The better the competition you are in, the better you develop in the long run.

“Maybe on the outside people think that if we keep winning it’s all rosy. For us, we never saw it like that.”

Speaking about Edinburgh, he highlighted: “Definitely a change of style (under Mike Blair this season) and they are very good in attack and defence.


“They’ve got very good structure and a good philosophy. They are very well coached, they are exciting to watch. Weather permitting, it will be a good game on Friday.”

LEINSTER (v Edinburgh): Jamie Osborne; Tommy O’Brien, Rory O’Loughlin, Ciaran Frawley, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Nick McCarthy; Ed Byrne, James Tracy, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, Josh Murphy, Rhys Ruddock (capt), Scott Penny, Max Deegan.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Peter Dooley, Vakh Abdaladze, Devin Toner, Martin Moloney, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne, Rob Russell.