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James Ryan and Hugo Keenan start as Leinster change 13 for Ulster

By Josh Raisey
Hugo Keenan during Leinster rugby squad training at UCD in Dublin. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have decided to rest many of their frontline players to take on Ulster on Saturday at the Kingspan Stadium, with one eye on the Investec Champions Cup next weekend.


Following their recent 61-14 win over the Ospreys, many of Leinster’s and Ireland’s regulars have been left out of the trip to Belfast to face an Ulster side that are scrapping to improve their league position ahead of the play-offs.

Hooker Ronan Kelleher and winger Jimmy O’Brien are the two that have kept hold of their starting place, although the latter has moved into the centres.

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Head coach Leo Cullen has been boosted by the return of some big names a week before facing Toulouse at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with James Ryan and Hugo Keenan both returning to the starting XV.

Ryan has been out since the Guinness Six Nations with a bicep injury, while Keenan has had a persistent hip complaint. They will be looking to force their way into the reckoning for the European showdown.

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“They are building in confidence with their results and performances in recent weeks,” assistant coach Andrew Goodman said of Ulster.

“My experience of these games is that they are usually one-score matches. There will be plenty of pressure moments, and we need to come out on top of them.


“Ulster are desperate to win, and we are too. We want to stay in those top positions in the URC. It’s a massive week for us as a club.”

Leinster XV
15. Hugo Keenan (64)
14. Tommy O’Brien (32)
13. Jimmy O’Brien (77)
12. Charlie Ngatai (24)
11. Rob Russell (30)
10. Harry Byrne (66)
9. Cormac Foley (18) 1. Cian Healy (275)
2. Rónan Kelleher (59)
3. Michael Ala’alatoa (67)
4. James Ryan (79) CAPTAIN
5. Brian Deeny (16)
6. Max Deegan (110)
7. Will Connors (47)
8. Jack Conan (143)

16. John McKee (26)
17. Michael Milne (38)
18. Thomas Clarkson (38)
19. Ross Molony (179)
20. Scott Penny (69)
21. Luke McGrath (207)
22. Sam Prendergast (15)
23. Ben Brownlee (8)



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1 Comment
Turlough 34 days ago

This has the makings of a good match. That’s Leinster’s second team but its a good one (stronger than the teams in SA recently). Ulster are really turning a page.
Ryan back is huge, and Keenan too. This could be a cracker.

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