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Academy Duo Osborne And Mangan Set For Leinster Debuts In Parma

Academy Duo Osborne And Mangan Set For Leinster Debuts In Parma

Kildare native Diarmuid Mangan, who turned 21 earlier this month, is pictured training with the Leinster squad in UCD this week ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Prop Ed Byrne will join Leinster’s 100-cap club when the BKT United Rugby Championship leaders play Zebre Parma at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Saturday (kick-off 8.35pm local time/7.35pm Irish time).

Coincidentally, Carlow man Byrne made his debut against Zebre in Parma back in February 2014. He was part of the teams that won the Guinness PRO14 title in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Academy pair Andrew Osborne and Diarmuid Mangan are poised to win their first senior caps for Leinster, with the former selected on the left wing, and Mangan part of a youthful line-up of replacements.

The two Kildarte natives were part of last year’s Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam-winning team that also reached the World Rugby U-20 Championship final. Four more members of that U-20 side are on Leinster’s bench this weekend.

Andrew, who played in the recent friendlies against Saracens and Bath, is the young brother of inside centre Jamie. The Osbornes will become the third set of brothers to play together for Leinster this season, after Ross and Harry Byrne, and Joe and Paddy McCarthy.

In all, head coach Leo Cullen has made three personnel changes and three positional switches to the team that won 33-20 in Cardiff at the start of the month.

Starting at full-back, Ciarán Frawley returns for the first time since his involvement in Ireland’s successful Guinness Men’s Six Nations title defence.

Rob Russell and 20-year-old debutant Osborne fill the wing berths, with Liam Turner shifting back to outside centre, and the elder Osborne reverting to the inside centre role. The starting half-backs are Ross Byrne and Luke McGrath, who is closing in on 150 URC appearances.

Centurion Ed Byrne slots into the front row alongside Lee Barron and Thomas Clarkson, and the remainder of the pack is unchanged with Ross Molony and Jason Jenkins at lock, and captain Scott Penny, Will Connors, and Max Deegan chosen again as the loose forward trio.

Mangan’s Academy colleagues, Fintan Gunne and Henry McErlean, could win their second caps as replacements. The visitors’ bench options also include front rowers John McKee and Michael Milne (2), who scored three tries between them in the Welsh capital last time out.

Speaking ahead of the trip to northern Italy, Leinster’s senior coach Jacques Nienaber said that the URC matches and friendlies during the Six Nations window have been very beneficial to the wider squad.

“We got well tested in these matches,” he said. “The games that we have played without the international players has been a great test for the squad’s character.”

Meanwhile, having missed the closing two rounds of the Six Nations, James Ryan had a procedure on his arm injury and will be assessed over the coming weeks regarding a return-to-play date.

Also on his return to Leinster, Hugo Keenan will have his hip injury assessed. Tommy O’Brien picked up a hamstring injury last week and was unavailable for selection against Zebre.

LEINSTER (v Zebre Parma): Ciarán Frawley; Rob Russell, Liam Turner, Jamie Osborne, Andrew Osborne; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Ed Byrne, Lee Barron, Thomas Clarkson, Ross Molony, Jason Jenkins, Will Connors, Scott Penny (capt), Max Deegan.

Replacements: John McKee, Michael Milne, Michael Ala’alatoa, Brian Deeny, Diarmuid Mangan, Fintan Gunne, Sam Prendergast, Henry McErlean.