Leinster head coach, Leo Cullen has named the returning Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath in his side to face Ulster in the RDS Arena tomorrow in the clash of the top two teams in Conference B of the PRO14.
From the team that started in Munster last week, Adam Byrne comes in on the right wing as does Barry Daly on the left. Daly has recovered from a knee injury and it’s his first game since August when he lasted only 11 minutes in the first game of the season away to the Cardiff Blues.
Noel Reid is joined by Conor O’Brien in the centre with Jamison Gibson-Park and Ciarán Frawley the half back pairing for the first game of 2019.
In the pack there is a welcome return for British & Irish Lion Jack McGrath who has recovered from a hip injury to take his place in the front row alongside Seán Cronin and Andrew Porter.
Ross Molony and Mick Kearney start in the second row with Josh Murphy, Scott Penny and Max Deegan the back row.
On the bench there is a potential debut for Lansdowne’s Oisín Dowling in the second row. 21 year old Dowling who has 10 Ireland Under 20s caps to his name is in his second year in the Leinster Academy.
Leinster: Rob Kearney (captain), Adam Byrne, Conor O’Brien, Noel Reid, Barry Daly, Ciarán Frawley, Jamison Gibson-Park; Jack McGrath, Seán Cronin, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Mick Kearney, Josh Murphy, Scott Penny, Max Deegan.
Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Michael Bent, Oisín Dowling, Caelan Doris, Hugh O’Sullivan, Ross Byrne, Jimmy O’Brien.
Meanwhile, Academy players, Matthew Dalton, Angus Kernohan, James Hume and Michael Lowry, will all start for Ulster while Rob Lyttle has returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines to start on the right wing.
Lyttle, who scored two tries in his last outing for Ulster, against Southern Kings back in February 2018, is joined in the back three by Kernohan and Lowry.
Here is your Ulster team to play @leinsterrugby tomorrow!
— Ulster Rugby (at 🏡) (@UlsterRugby) January 4, 2019
Hume and Darren Cave are paired together in midfield, with Dave Shanahan and Johnny McPhillips set to combine in the half back positions.
Up front, Greg Jones will make his first start of the season after being included in the back row alongside Sean Reidy and Nick Timoney.
Alan O’Connor has recovered from an injury sustained against Cardiff Blues in early December and will partner Dalton, who will make his first appearance of the season, in the second row.
Wiehahn Herbst is another to have returned from injury, having not featured since September, and he will pack down in the front row with hooker Adam McBurney and loosehead prop Kyle McCall.
There are two potential debutants named on the bench as versatile Banbridge RFC forward Caleb Montgomery and Ballymena RFC flyhalf Bruce Houston, another Academy prospect, are included in the panel.
Forwards John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Tom O’Toole and Clive Ross, along with backs Jonny Stewart and Peter Nelson, make up the remainder of the match day 23.
Ulster: M Lowry; R Lyttle, D Cave, J Hume, A Kernohan; J McPhillips, D Shanahan; K McCall, A McBurney, W Herbst, M Dalton, A O’Connor (captain), G Jones, S Reidy, N Timoney.
Replacements (16-23): J Andrew, A Warwick, T O’Toole, C Montgomery, C Ross, J Stewart, B Houston, P Nelson.