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Culhane Comes In As Leinster’s Only Change

Culhane Comes In As Leinster’s Only Change

Enniskerry youngster James Culhane is pictured during a recent Leinster training session at their UCD base ©INPHO/Rebecca Dollard

Rhys Ruddock is replaced by Academy back rower James Culhane in the only personnel change to the Leinster team to play Edinburgh in the BKT United Rugby Championship at the RDS on Saturday (kick-off 3.05pm). Tickets are available here.

Leinster are aiming to back up last weekend’s 34-13 home win over the Hollywoodbets Sharks, with Culhane, the 2022 Under-20 Six Nations Player of the Championship, slotting in at number 8 for his second start of the season for the province.

Ruddock reverts to the replacements bench and Max Deegan, a try scorer against the Sharks on the occasion of his 100th cap, switches to the blindside flanker role. Captain Scott Penny continues at openside.

Ross Molony and South African Jason Jenkins pair up in the second row for the third successive game, and Samoan international Michael Ala’alatoa will pack down again in the front row with 21-year-old Academy loosehead Jack Boyle, who makes his third start in a row, and Lee Barron.

Wingers Tommy O’Brien and Jordan Larmour, two of last week’s try scorers, continue in the back-three alongside Ciaran Frawley. No player has beaten more players in the URC so far this season than O’Brien, who has got past ten defenders during the opening two rounds.

Jamie Osborne, Charlie Ngatai, Harry Byrne and Cormac Foley complete the province’s back-line, with Foley eager to make the most of his back-to-back starts at scrum half. Leinster have lost the services of Luke McGrath (knee) for upwards of two months.

Clontarf captain Dylan Donnellan is in line for his second Leinster cap, having made his debut off the bench against the Sharks. The replacements also include Academy scrum half Ben Murphy, another recent starter for ‘Tarf in the Energia All-Ireland League.

Speaking ahead of the third round match, head coach Leo Cullen said: “It was definitely a step up the right direction last week. Disappointing game against Glasgow, better against the Sharks. We’ve had a decent training week, even a few of the international guys have returned.

“They’re all keen to get back involved which is great. A good opportunity now again for our guys tomorrow. Edinburgh will pose a serious test for us, I think, because they’re two from two at the start of the season and have a lot of international experience throughout their team.

“Another great challenge for our guys and looking forward to seeing how they go. Playing in front of your home fans, nothing really beats it. It’s a great run of games coming up, so we will need a big squad and we’ll need everyone firing.”

LEINSTER (v Edinburgh): Ciaran Frawley; Tommy O’Brien, Jamie Osborne, Charlie Ngatai, Jordan Larmour; Harry Byrne, Cormac Foley; Jack Boyle, Lee Barron, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, Jason Jenkins, Max Deegan, Scott Penny (capt), James Culhane.

Replacements: Dylan Donnellan, Paddy McCarthy, Rory McGuire, Brian Deeny, Rhys Ruddock, Ben Murphy, Sam Prendergast, Rob Russell.