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Sexton starts as Leinster name their side to face the Bulls in URC opener

Leinster have named their team to face the Bulls in the opening round of the new United Rugby Cha...

Stephen Kisbey-Green
Stephen Kisbey-Green

14:08 24 Sep 2021



Leinster have named their team to face the Bulls in the opening round of the new United Rugby Championship competition on Saturday.

The game is being run at 75 per cent of Aviva Stadium capacity as fans eagerly await the match between the reigning Pro14 champions and the reigning Currie Cup champions.

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made a number of changes from the team that faced Harlequins in the pre-season friendly two weeks ago, with a number of positional changes as well.

Hugo Keenan, Rory O’Loughlin and James Lowe are the back three, with Keenan and O’Loughlin seeing action for the first time this autumn against the Bulls.

In the centre, Ciarán Frawley will also get his first taste of Leinster action since last season as will Garry Ringrose beside him, with both players now fully recovered from shoulder injuries.

Sexton Leinster

In the half backs, Cullen has chosen the same pair that started against Quins with the experienced duo of Luke McGrath and captain Johnny Sexton teaming up.

In the pack, Andrew Porter has recovered from a foot injury and will start in the number one jersey for Leinster for the first time since November 2016.

Dan Sheehan starts at hooker with Michael Ala’alatoa making his competitive debut for Leinster at tighthead prop.

Ross Molony and James Ryan will form an all-St Michael’s College second row unit when they line out tomorrow evening.

In the back row, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris complete the starting XV for Cullen. Neither van der Flier nor Doris were involved at the Aviva two weeks ago.

On the bench, Cian Healy will wear the number 18 jersey, while Max Deegan will make his first competitive appearance for the club since October 2020 if he is introduced.

Leinster team to face the Bulls:

Backs: Hugo Keenan, Rory O’Loughlin, Garry Ringrose, Ciarán Frawley, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton (C), Luke McGrath

Forwards: Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, James Ryan,  Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris

Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Cian Healy, Ryan Baird, Max Deegan, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne,  Jamie Osborne

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Andrew Porter Bulls Caelan Doris Cian Healy Ciaran Frawley Dan Sheehan Ed Byrne Garry Ringrose Hugo Keenan James Lowe James Ryan James Tracy Jamie Osborne Jamison Gibson-park Johnny Sexton Josh Van Der Flier Leinster Leo Cullen Luke Mcgrath Max Deegan Michael Alaalatoa Rhys Ruddock Rory O'Loughlin Ross Byrne Ross Molony Ryan Baird United Rugby Championship

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