Home Rugby PRO14 News: O’Donnell Leads Munster As Lowe Makes Leinster Return

PRO14 News: O’Donnell Leads Munster As Lowe Makes Leinster Return

While Japan may continue to hold the focus of rugby fans, there is plenty of action at home as all four provinces feature in the PRO14 this weekend.

On Friday evening, Leinster welcome Ospreys to the RDS for their first home game of the season. Meanwhile, both Munster and Ulster are in action in South Africa as they take on the Southern Kings and the Toyota Cheetahs respectively on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Connacht take on Benetton at the Sportsground.

Ahead of the PRO14 clashes, we have all the latest team news.

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Leinster

James Lowe will make his first appearance for Leinster since the Guinness PRO14 Final in May and is named in the backline alongside Hugo Keenan starting at full-back and Fergus McFadden on the wing.

james lowe

It’s as you were in the centre and in the half-backs with Joe Tomane and Rory O’Loughlin again at 12 and 13, and Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne at scrum-half and out-half.

Peter Dooley, Rónan Kelleher and Michael Bent continue in the front row, with one change in the second row as Scott Fardy comes in to captain the side alongside Devin Toner.

The back row also has one change with Josh Murphy starting this week at blindside flanker, with Will Connors at openside and Caelan Doris again at number eight.

Kick-off in the RDS on Friday is 7.35pm.

Leinster team v Ospreys: Hugo Keenan, Fergus McFadden, Rory O’Loughlin, Joe Tomane, James Lowe, Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Peter Dooley, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Scott Fardy, Josh Murphy, Will Connors, Caelan Doris.

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Munster

Johann van Graan has made four changes to the Munster side who recorded a bonus-point win against Dragons in their PRO14 opener last week.

Munster

While the Irish camp nervously await the outcome of Jordi Murphy’s scan, Tommy O’Donnell continues to feature for his province and is handed the captaincy duties. He is named in the back row alongside Jack O’Donoghue and Arno Botha, while Darren O’Shea partners Fineen Wycherley in the second row.

The other changes see Liam O’Connor joins Kevin O’Byrne and Stephen Archer in the front row while Alby Mathewson is named at scrum-half. Finally, Dan Goggin is picked at outside centre alongside Rory Scannell.

Kick-off at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday is 4pm local/3pm Irish time.

Munster team v Southern Kings: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson; Liam O’Connor, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer; Darren O’Shea, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue, Tommy O’Donnell (C), Arno Botha.

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Ulster

New Ulster signing Bill Johnston will make his competitive Ulster debut this weekend in the only change to the side that recorded a  bonus-point home win over Ospreys last Friday night.

The 22-year-old fly-half will partner John Cooney at half-back, with the pairing of James Hume and Luke Marshall continuing in midfield. Craig Gilroy is once again named on the right wing with Rob Lyttle on the left. Matt Faddes is named at fullback.

The pack remains unchanged with hooker Rob Herring captaining the side alongside Jack McGrath and Tom O’Toole in the front row. Sam Carter and Kieran Treadwell continue in the second row, with Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy and Greg Jones selected as in the back row.

Kick-off in the Toyota Stadium is 5.15pm Irish time.

Ulster team v Cheetahs: Matt Faddes; Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, James Hume, Rob Lyttle; Bill Johnston, John Cooney; Jack McGrath, Rob Herring (Capt), Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Sam Carter, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Greg Jones.

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Connacht

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has made three changes to the Connacht starting team for the visit of Benetton to the Sportsground on Saturday.

Connacht

Darragh Leader, Peter Robb and Paul Boyle all come into the side as Connacht look to bounce back from a defeat away to Scarlets on the opening day of the PRO14 season.

Leader is named on the wing with Tiernan O’Halloran and Matt Healy completing the backline. Meanwhile, Robb is named alongside Kyle Godwin in the centre while Conor Fitzgerald and Caolin Blade continue their half-back partnership.

Boyle, at eight, is the only change to the forward pack with Jarrad Butler and Eoghan Masterson named as flankers. Paddy McAllister, Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham make up the front row while Gavin Thornbury and Quinn Roux are partnered in the second row.

Kick-off in the Sportsground on Saturday is 7.35pm.

Connacht team v Benetton: Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade; Paddy McAllister, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Paul Boyle.

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About Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. You can contact her at marisa@punditarena.com or on Twitter