Sam Prendergast to start his first Interpro

Sam Prendergast to start his first Interpro

Leinster Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen has named the Leinster 23 to face Ulster Rugby in the BKT United Rugby Championship on New Year’s Day in a sold-out RDS Arena (KO: 5.15pm – live on RTÉ 2 and RTÉ Radio).

Cullen has made a number of changes to the squad with only Rob Russell retained from the starting XV that won in Thomond Park on St. Stephen’s Day.

Russell is joined in the back three by Jimmy O’Brien and by Tommy O’Brien, who makes a welcome return from injury. The former Blackrock College player was in prolific form and had scored three tries in four starts up until his injury in November.

Robbie Henshaw and Liam Turner come into the centre, while Jamison Gibson-Park is passed fit after missing the trip to Limerick. Outside him will be Sam Prendergast who get his first taste of senior interpro action in the number ten jersey.

Cian Healy, Dan Sheehan and Thomas Clarkson is the front row selected by Cullen, with Jason Jenkins and captain James Ryan packing down behind them.

Ryan Baird and Will Connors, both of whom came off the bench in Thomond Park, start this week, with Caelan Doris completing the pack.

On the bench, Academy prop Jack Boyle gets the chance to impress once again, having been a traveling extra in Limerick, while Luke McGrath, if introduced, will move a step closer to becoming a double-centurion when making his 199th appearance.

Speaking ahead of the game, Assistant Coach Robin McBryde said Ulster will provide a stern test.

“We have got to be at our best. It’s a simple as that. If you look at recent results, they have been close matches. Ulster have too many good players, not to be threatening. It’s no surprise how good they have done in recent weeks.”

Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):

15. Jimmy O’Brien (76)
14. Tommy O’Brien (28)
13. Liam Turner (22)
12. Robbie Henshaw (81)
11. Rob Russell (23)
10. Sam Prendergast (7)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (131)
1. Cian Healy (268)
2. Dan Sheehan (52)
3. Thomas Clarkson (32)
4. Jason Jenkins (27)
5. James Ryan (77) CAPTAIN
6. Ryan Baird (59)
7. Will Connors (42)
8. Caelan Doris (72)

16. Lee Barron (13)
17. Jack Boyle (8)
18. Michael Ala’alatoa (55)
19. Joe McCarthy (25)
20. Jack Conan (136)
21. Luke McGrath (198)
22. Harry Byrne (58)
23. Josh van der Flier (132)

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

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