Gopperth to make Leinster debut at Ravenhill
Former Newcastle outhalf to play in young side for Ulster friendly
Jimmy Gopperth will make his Leinster debut at outhalf against Ulster at Ravenhill. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Leinster supporters will get their first look at new outhalf signing Jimmy Gopperth after the New Zealander was named in the starting XV for Friday night’s opening pre-season game away to Ulster at the revamped Ravenhill (7.30pm).
Gopperth was signed by the province from Newcastle ahead of Jonny Sexton’s departure to Racing Metro and will battle it out with Ian Madigan for the number 10 shirt in the coming season.
The game also marks Matt O’Connor’s first game in charge after his switch for Leicester and he has named a young starting side that includes 10 Academy graduates.
Former St Mary’s College winger Darragh Fanning, who is training with the panel on a short-term deal, is named on the right wing, with Andrew Boyle on the left and Darren Hudson at fullback.
Brendan Macken and noel Reid will start in midfield, with John Cooney alongside Gopperth at halfback.
Jack O’Connell and Martin Moore will pack down either side of Aaron Dundon, while Quinn Roux and Tadhg Beirne will start at secondrow.
Rhys Ruddock will skipper the side from blindside flanker, with Dominic Ryan at openside and Leo Auva’a at number eight.
O’Connor has named an extended 14-man bench for the game.
Ulster coach Mark Anscombe has named James McKinney at outhalf after his return from Rotherham this summer, while new signings David McIlwaine and Bronson Ross will start on the bench.
Chris Farrell has recovered from the cruciate injury that ruled him out last season and starts at inside centre beside Jared Payne, who will captain the side.
Ireland under-20 star Rory Scholes starts on the right wing with Michael Allen picked on the left and Peter Nelson named at fullback.
Academy prop Kyle McCall starts at loosehead, with Ireland international Declan Fitzpatrick tighthead and Niall Annett at hooker.
Ireland international Lewis Stevenson is joined by and Neil McComb in the secondrow, with Mike McComish and Nick Williams making up the backrow.
ULSTER (v Leinster, Friday, Ravenhill, 7.30pm): Peter Nelson; Rory Scholes, Jared Payne (cap), Chris Farrell, Michael Allen; James McKinney, Michael Heaney; Kyle McCall, Niall Annett, Declan Fitzpatrick, Lewis Stevenson, Neil McComb, Mike McComish, Sean Doyle, Nick Williams.
Replacements: Callum Black, Jonny Murphy, Bronson Ross, Alan O’Connor Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack, Roger Wilson, Ian Porter, Chris Cochrane, Luke Marshall, David McIlwaine, Ricky Andrew.
LEINSTER: Darren Hudson; Darragh Fanning, Brendan Macken, Noel Reid, Andrew Boyle; Jimmy Gopperth, John Cooney; Jack O’Connell, Aaron Dundon, Martin Moore, Tadhg Beirne, Quinn Roux, Rhys Ruddock (Capt), Dominic Ryan, Leo Auva’a.
Replacements: James Tracy, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Tadhg Furlong, Ben Marshall, Jordi Murphy, Dan Leavy, Luke McGrath, Colm O’Shea, Adam Byrne, Thomas Daly, Billy Dardis, Thomas Farrell, Cathal Marsh.