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Leinster's European preparations affected by positive Covid tests

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Champions Cup preparations have been disrupted at Leinster due to three unnamed senior players testing positive for Covid-19 in the run-up to Saturday’s opening match versus Bath at the Aviva Stadium. They are the third Irish province to be affected by the virus in recent weeks.

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Munster had their preparations for Sunday’s match at Wasps hit hard following their ill-fated United Rugby Championship trip to South Africa while new Ulster signing Duane Vermeulen had his debut for the club delayed until this Saturday at Clermont following his positive test while with the Barbarians who had their November 27 match versus Samoa in London called off.  

A Leinster statement on Friday ahead of their Champions Cup round one match read: “Leinster are assisting three senior players who have tested positive for Covid-19. All three players were tested outside the PCR testing window and are now self-isolating.

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“Further PCR testing was carried out at Leinster yesterday morning [Thursday] on 94 players, coaches and staff and 93 tests returned negative results, with one further positive result for a member of staff. The HSE has been informed in accordance with public health guidelines.

“The Leinster squad will take part in the captain’s run later on today [Friday] ahead of tomorrow’s Heineken Champions Cup game against Bath at Aviva Stadium.”

Leinster named their starting team before that training run and it is still a formidable line-up. Leo Cullen was able to call on the same back three from last week’s win over Connacht at the RDS with Hugo Keenan at 15 flanked on the wings by Jordan Larmour and James Lowe. In midfield, Garry Ringrose will be partnered by Skerries man Ciaran Frawley. Jamison Gibson-Park returns to the line-up at scrum-half where he will link up with Ross Byrne in the No10 shirt.

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In the pack, Rhys Ruddock will captain the side from his position on the blindside with Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris completing the back row. The front row sees Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong join forces, with Ryan Baird and Ross Molony packing down behind them.

On the bench, there are potential European debuts for all of Michael Ala’alatoa, Dan Sheehan and Tommy O’Brien. Cullen will also be able to call upon Cian Healy, Devin Toner, Max Deegan, Luke McGrath and Jimmy O’Brien.

LEINSTER (vs Bath, Saturday)

15. Hugo Keenan (35)
14. Jordan Larmour (66)
13. Garry Ringrose (91)
12. Ciaran Frawley (41)
11. James Lowe (56)
10. Ross Byrne (110)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (105)
1. Andrew Porter (81)
2. Rónan Kelleher (29)
3, Tadhg Furlong (117)
4. Ross Molony (122)
5. Ryan Baird (33)
6. Rhys Ruddock (195) CAPTAIN
7. Josh van der Flier (103)
8. Caelan Doris (44)
Reps:
16. Dan Sheehan (18)
17. Cian Healy (237)
18. Michael Ala’alatoa (6)
19. Devin Toner (270)
20. Max Deegan (70)
21. Luke McGrath (157)
22. Jimmy O’Brien (37)
23. Tommy O’Brien (12)

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