Ryan Baird switches to blindside for Leinster, as Ireland No.8 ruturns from injury
Ryan Baird is to set to start at six for Leinster as they take on Connacht in their PRO14 inter-pro at the RDS tomorrow. Leo Cullen will run the positional experiment denied to him by the cancellation of last weekend’s St Stephen’s Day derby between Leinster and Munter.
The back row is an all-St. Michael’s College affair with Baird, Scott Penny and Dan Leavy selected to start in Cullen’s first match day XV of 2021. Ireland No.8 Jack Conan is also set to complete a return to action, with the back row being named on the bench.
There will also be debuts for academy duo Max O’Reilly and Andrew Smith making their debuts from the start. 20-year-old O’Reilly, who is in year one of the Leinster Rugby Academy, is a native of Enniskerry in Wicklow and a former pupil of St. Gerard’s School in Bray and starts his first senior game for Leinster in the number 15 jersey.
In the back three with O’Reilly is Andrew Smith making his debut on the right wing and Dave Kearney who is selected on the left.
Smith, who is also 20 years of age and in year one of the Academy, is a former St. Michael’s College pupil and won a Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Schools Senior Cup in 2019. He has also represented Ireland Under 20s as recently as the 2020 Six Nations.
Rory O’Loughlin and Jimmy O’Brien form the centre partnership for Cullen while Luke McGrath will captain the side from scrumhalf with Johnny Sexton back from injury beside him in the number ten jersey.
15. Max O’Reilly
14. Andrew Smith
13. Jimmy O’Brien
12. Rory O’Loughlin
11. Dave Kearney
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Luke McGrath CAPTAIN
1. Peter Dooley
2. James Tracy
3. Michael Bent
4. Ross Molony
5. Devin Toner
6. Ryan Baird
7. Scott Penny
8. Dan Leavy
Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)
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