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O’Brien Returns As One Of Five Changes To Leinster Team

O’Brien Returns As One Of Five Changes To Leinster Team

Jimmy O'Brien celebrates following Leinster's qualification for the Investec Champions Cup final ©INPHO/James Crombie

Jimmy O’Brien will make his first start for Leinster since mid-December, following the announcement of the team to face the Ospreys in the BKT United Rugby Championship at the RDS on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm). Tickets are available here.

Having been sidelined with a neck injury that kept him out of the Guinness Six Nations, O’Brien returned for the final eight minutes of Leinster’s Investec Champions Cup semi-final win over Northampton Saints last week.

The Eadestown native now gets his first start since before Christmas, coming in as one of five changes for the province’s penultimate home match of the URC’s regular season.

There are also starting places for Luke McGrath, Rónan Kelleher, Jason Jenkins, and Will Connors, as Leo Cullen’s men look to get their league form back on track after heavy defeats to the Emirates Lions (44-12) and the DHL Stormers (42-12) in South Africa.

Now sitting second in the URC table, with Glasgow Warriors four points ahead of them, Leinster will be aiming to pick up as many points as possible from their final round games against the Ospreys, Ulster (away), and Connacht (home).

McGrath pairs up with Ross Byrne at half-back for the first time since the March win over Zebre, while O’Brien will get some much-needed game-time on the left wing, in a back-three that also features two more Ireland internationals in Ciarán Frawley and Jordan Larmour.

With his eighth start since February, the 22-year-old Jamie Osborne and Robbie Henshaw continue together in the centre. Kelleher swaps in for Dan Sheehan at hooker, either side of Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong.

Ross Molony, who makes his 180th appearance for the province ahead of his summer move to Bath, will pack down with South African Jenkins at lock for the seventh time this season.

Josh van der Flier reverts to a bench role as he makes way for Connors in the back row, which has Ryan Baird at blindside flanker and Caelan Doris continuing as captain at number 8.

“If I get to play this week, I’d be really excited because I get to build on momentum from last week,” insisted Baird, who now has 66 Leinster caps to his name. “I’m not keeping the powder dry, I’d love to get out there again.

“I’m thinking, ‘How can I be a better player?’. ‘Forget the occasion, but can I get better this week? Can I get better next week?’. If I get to play this week it’s another opportunity to see what I’m like under pressure.

“We’re second in the table, we need to push to get back up top. People might be distracted by the Champions Cup, but there’s a hell of a lot on the line for us in the URC to get that top seed.”

Garry Ringrose returned to full training last week following his shoulder injury, while his fellow co-captain, James Ryan, is still out with an arm injury.

Leinster have opted for a 5-3 split amongst the replacements, with Tommy O’Brien set to feature for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in February.

LEINSTER (v Ospreys): Ciarán Frawley; Jordan Larmour, Jamie Osborne, Robbie Henshaw, Jimmy O’Brien; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Andrew Porter, Rónan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Ross Molony, Jason Jenkins, Ryan Baird, Will Connors, Caelan Doris (capt).

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Michael Milne, Thomas Clarkson, Jack Conan, Josh van der Flier, Jamison Gibson-Park, Charlie Ngatai, Tommy O’Brien.