Leinster weigh up big calls in back three and back row against Munster

Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster have had plenty of food for thought this week.

LEINSTER HAVE BIG calls to confirm in their back three and back row for Friday night’s Guinness Pro14 semi-final clash with Munster [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport, deferred coverage on TG4 at 9.45pm], as Leo Cullen gets set to rotate his frontline players back in.

In the back three, Dave Kearney’s hamstring injury has opened up a spot and Hugo Keenan could potentially retain his place after starting against Ulster last weekend.

34-year-old Rob Kearney is also a very tempting option for Cullen and co. given his aerial strength but Leinster may back Jordan Larmour at fullback again and include Keenan – who has played the majority of his senior rugby at number 15 – on the right wing.

leinsters-hugo-keenan Hugo Keenan is among the options in Leinster's back three. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Meanwhile, Leinster could also give Will Connors another start at openside flanker after his outstanding display against Ulster last weekend, with Josh van der Flier potentially used off the bench.

The back row competition in Leinster is as fierce as ever but Connors’ ability to kill the momentum of opposition attacks means he is a strong option for Leinster. However, van der Flier’s experience and energy are highly-rated by the province’s coaching staff and there are several other excellent back row options including Rhys Ruddock.

The experienced Devin Toner’s lineout nous could see him starting in the second row ahead of the exciting 21-year-old Ryan Baird, potentially helping to shore up an area where Leinster struggled against Munster last time out, even if Baird’s athleticism was impressive again when the sides met two weekends ago.

Andrew Porter is in line to return to the starting XV at tighthead prop, with Tadhg Furlong having missed the first two games of the restarted season with a back issue. 

Rugby Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella's exclusive analysis on the URC interpros and Champions Cup clashes this December

Become a Member

Cullen is expected to opt for a very similar team to the one that faced Munster two weekends ago, with the likes of captain Johnny Sexton, Jack Conan, and Garry Ringrose likely to be key figures again.

Munster and Leinster are due to name their match day 23s at midday tomorrow. 

 Possible Leinster XV:

15. Jordan Larmour
14. Hugo Keenan
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe
10. Johnny Sexton (captain)
9. Luke McGrath

1. Cian Healy
2. Ronan Kelleher
3. Andrew Porter
4. Scott Fardy
5. Devin Toner
6. Caelan Doris
7. Will Connors
8. Jack Conan

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel