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Cullen confirms James Ryan will be fit for Wales game and says Furlong ‘should be good to go’

Furlong, Ryan and injured winger James Lowe will not play for Leinster against Bath tomorrow.

Furlong 'should be okay' to face Wales.
Furlong 'should be okay' to face Wales.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

FIRST THE FITNESS news. Tadhg Furlong won’t feature for Leinster against Bath this weekend but should be fit in time for Ireland’s Six Nations opener on 5 February. James Ryan is available to line out against the Welsh but James Lowe is not.

That news was confirmed this morning by the Leinster head coach, Leo Cullen, after he named his team to play Bath tomorrow in the Champions Cup.

“James (Lowe) picked up a niggle on Tuesday in training,” said Cullen. “It was very unfortunate, as he will be out for a few weeks.

“James (Ryan) could have been touch-and-go (to play for Leinster tomorrow) but we were happy with how Ross (Molony) and Josh (Murphy) went last week, and with Ryan Baird coming back as well, the sensible decision was to not push anything.

“So he (James Ryan) is okay.

“Tadhg (Furlong) doesn’t seem to be too bad, and hopefully he’ll be up and running for Round 1 of the Six Nations. Ireland will be going to camp next week, and he should be good to go hopefully, barring any setbacks.”

james-ryan Ryan will be fit for Ireland's Six Nations opener. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

Cullen also refrained from commenting on the speculation linking the province with a move for Munster’s lock, Jason Jenkins, a story broken by The42′s Murray Kinsella’s earlier this week.

“I can see how it would make sense for certain people’s minds,” said Cullen. “I know that Johann (Van Graan) talks very, very highly of him. He is a big man. You see in some of the big games, South Africa winning the World Cup and that Lions series, the emphasis particularly around the scrum and maul…..we don’t bring a huge amount of guys in from outside as you would be well aware. Mike Ala’alatoa is our only foreign player.

“Mike has had an unbelievable impact on us and sometimes a bit of experience from the outside is good for the group. You can see the quality he brings.

“We will comment further (on the Jenkins situation) if there is anything official to be announced.” 

For tomorrow’s Champions Cup game against Bath at the Rec (KO 1pm – LIVE on BT Sport, Channel 4, Virgin Media and RTÉ Radio), Johnny Sexton returns to lead the side out, his first start for the province since the win over Scarlets in October.

He is partnered in the half-backs by Luke McGrath.

Cullen has chosen the same back three from last week’s 89-7 win over Montpellier with Hugo Keenan in the number 15 jersey flanked by Jordan Larmour and Jimmy O’Brien.

Garry Ringrose holds onto his spot in the centre but this week will be joined in midfield by Robbie Henshaw.

There’s just one change to the pack from round three, Michael Ala’alatoa – a try-scorer from the replacements bench against Montpellier – comes in ahead of Tadhg Furlong.

He goes in at tighthead alongside hooker Rónan Kelleher and loosehead Andrew Porter.

Packing down behind them is the same duo of Ross Molony and Josh Murphy while the back row also remains unchanged, the trio of Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan.

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On the bench, there’s a potential European debut for Vakh Abdaladze should he enter the fray.

He’s joined in reserve by Dan Sheehan, Cian Healy, Ryan Baird, Max Deegan, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne and Ciarán Frawley.

Leinster Rugby team to face Bath (Leinster caps in brackets):

15. Hugo Keenan (37)
14. Jordan Larmour (68)
13. Garry Ringrose (93)
12. Robbie Henshaw (59)
11. Jimmy O’Brien (40)
10. Johnny Sexton CAPTAIN (177)
9. Luke McGrath (159)

1. Andrew Porter (84)
2. Rónan Kelleher (32)
3. Michael Ala’alatoa (8)
4. Ross Molony (124)
5. Josh Murphy (51)
6. Caelan Doris (46)
7. Josh van der Flier (105)
8. Jack Conan (109)

Replacements:

16. Dan Sheehan (20)
17. Cian Healy (240)
18. Vakh Abdaladze (15)
19. Ryan Baird (35)
20. Max Deegan (73)
21. Jamison Gibson-Park (108)
22. Ross Byrne (113)
23. Ciarán Frawley (44)

Referee – Andrea Piardi (FIR)

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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