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James Ryan among returning Ireland stars as Leinster name loaded team for Tigers test

Leo Cullen has welcomed back all his big hitters for Saturday’s trip to Welford Road.

James Ryan is back in the Leinster team.
James Ryan is back in the Leinster team.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

JAMES RYAN IS set to make his first appearance since mid-March this weekend after being named in the Leinster team to face Leicester Tigers for their a highly-anticipated Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final fixture tomorrow [KO 5.30pm, BT Sport 2]. 

Having left the bulk of his international contingent at home for the recent two-game United Rugby Championship trip to South Africa, Leo Cullen welcomes back a host of Ireland stars for the trip to Welford Road, including influential second row Ryan.

The lock hasn’t played any rugby since being forced off following a head knock in the opening minute of Ireland’s Six Nations win against England in Twickenham on 12 March. Ryan was subsequently afforded an extended break from the game due to his history with head injuries.

However the 25-year-old has stepped up his training in recent weeks and has now been given the green light to start tomorrow’s heavyweight clash in Leicester, in what will be his first outing for the province since October.

“James is such a key guy for us over the last number of years, for Leinster and Ireland,” Cullen said.

“It’s good to see him back, he’s come through everything. We could have pushed him for those Connacht games earlier but he’s been working away, training for the last four or five weeks, so he should be good to go. We’re excited to see him back out there.”

Ryan’s return is the only change from Leinster’s last Champions Cup outing – the 56-20 defeat of Connacht in the round of 16 second leg at the Aviva Stadium.

Ryan partners the in-form Ross Molony in the second row, while the Ireland frontrow trio of Andrew Porter, Rónan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong also come back into the side.

A powerful backrow sees Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan all return.

Hugo Keenan resumes his place at fullback, with Jimmy O’Brien and James Lowe completing the back three.

Garry Ringrose lines out alongside Robbie Henshaw in the centre positions, with Jamison Gibson-Park named at scrum-half and Johnny Sexton captaining the side from out-half.

A strong Leinster bench includes rising second row star Joe McCarthy, who is in line to make his European debut for the province.

Meanwhile Leicester have made just one change from last weekend’s 56-26 Premiership win over Bristol, with Ollie Chessum returning to the second row as Harry Wells drops to the bench.

Leicester Tigers

15. Freddie Steward 

14. Chris Ashton 

13. Matías Moroni 

12. Guy Porter 

11. Harry Potter

10. George Ford

9. Ben Youngs 

1. Ellis Genge (captain) 

2. Julián Montoya 

3. Dan Cole 

4. Ollie Chessum 

5. Calum Green 

6. Hanro Liebenberg

7. Tommy Reffell 

8. Jasper Wiese 

Replacements:

16. Nic Dolly

17. James Whitcombe

18. Joe Heyes 

19. Harry Wells 

20. George Martin 

21. Richard Wigglesworth

22. Freddie Burns 

23. Nemani Nadolo 

Leinster

15. Hugo Keenan

14. Jimmy O’Brien

13. Garry Ringrose

12. Robbie Henshaw

11. James Lowe

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10. Johnny Sexton (captain)

9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Andrew Porter

2. Rónan Kelleher

3. Tadhg Furlong

4. Ross Molony

5. James Ryan

6. Caelan Doris

7. Josh van der Flier

8. Jack Conan

Replacements:

16. Dan Sheehan

17. Cian Healy

18. Michael Ala

19. Joe McCarthy 

20. Rhys Ruddock

21. Luke McGrath

22. Ross Byrne

23. Tommy O’Brien

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FRA) 

About the author:

Ciarán Kennedy

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