Leinster back row Jack Conan. James Crombie/INPHO

Furlong, Conan, and Lowe ruled out as Connors gets big chance

Head coach Leo Cullen has opted for Harry Byrne as the starting out-half.

LEINSTER BOSS LEO Cullen has confirmed that Tadhg Furlong, Jack Conan, and James Lowe were all ruled out of selection for Sunday’s Champions Cup clash against La Rochelle but he expects them to return soon.

Conan was named on Leinster’s bench for last weekend’s URC win over Connacht but didn’t make an appearance, with Cullen revealing that the Ireland back row had been injured while warming up during the game.

Furlong is also carrying an injury niggle, while Lowe is still getting fully up to speed having been back in New Zealand following the World Cup.

“Jack was on the bench last week, he just picked up a pretty minor injury when he was warming up after the game started,” said Cullen this afternoon.

“We had a 6/2 split last week that turned into a 5/2 split which made things a bit more complicated on the day.

“Tadhg has a bit of a niggle as well, it’s nothing major, so we’ll crack on with the guys who have trained this week.

“James had a couple of bits going on since the World Cup. He went back to New Zealand for a family piece, so again he’s just trying to get back up to speed really.

“He was just managing a couple of things coming back post-World Cup, and then being away, we just want to make sure we do what’s right by the lads. It’s a long season, and particularly for some of the international guys coming back in, there’s a little bit of management there over the course of a season trying to get everyone through.”

will-connors Leinster back row Will Connors. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

Among the interesting selection decisions in the Leinster team is the introduction of Will Connors in the number seven shirt, with regular starting openside Josh van der Flier set for a role off the bench.

Connors, who has nine Ireland caps, will be hoping to make a major impact against La Rochelle after a tough couple of years with injuries.

“We’re very lucky with some of the back rowers we have,” said Cullen.

“Will has had a few injury challenges, but he’s got through pre-season and the extended pre-season has been good for him. It’s just some of those consistent training habits.

“Scott Penny has been excellent for us and is very unlucky to miss out this week. That’s the great thing, some back rowers are itching to be involved. We’re looking forward to seeing what Will can deliver, he’s got some exceptional strengths to his game and hopefully we’ll see that at the weekend.

“Josh, for impact, will be really good for us on the day whenever that is at some point.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for the lads and we’re up against a very experienced team in La Rochelle, so we’ve got plenty of experience in our group as well. The lads are excited about the challenge of going over there because it’s a great rugby ground with a great atmosphere. It’s winter rugby, they’re at home, they’re excited by the challenge.”

Harry Byrne gets the nod at out-half with his older brother, Ross, currently sidelined due to injury.

ciaran-frawley-celebrates-scoring-a-late-try-to-win-the-game Frawley is on the bench for Leinster. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

That means Ciarán Frawley has to settle for a place on the bench, from where he covers out-half, the midfield, and fullback.

“I think it’s whatever fits,” said Cullen when asked if he has a specific position in mind for Frawley.

“He stepped into the game against Munster [at out-half] and controlled the game really well. He was definitely nervous as you’d expect so early in the game but we’re really comfortable with the lads we have here now.

“Ross is out for a period but it’s a brilliant opportunity for A) Harry and B) Ciarán. With our guys on the bench, we want real impact from them and I think we’ll get that from Ciarán wherever he comes on.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel