Leinster and Munster name inexperienced sides for Saracens and Harlequins friendlies

Andrew Osborne and Diarmuid Mangan start for Leinster; Alex Kendellen captains Munster squad featuring three academy starters

Rhys Ruddock captains a young Leinster side that takes on Saracens in a friendly at StoneX Stadium on Friday night (7.30pm).

Andrew Osborne and Diarmuid Mangan are the two players yet to play at senior level for the province included in the starting XV, though this is not a capped fixture.

Osborne, younger brother of centre Jamie, lines up on the wing in a backthree featuring Aitzol King and Henry McErlean, who made his Leinster debut last weekend in the victory over Benetton. Sam Prendergast starts at outhalf with Ben Murphy partnering him in the halfbacks, Ben Brownlee and Liam Turner line out at centre.

In the pack, Will Connors and Ruddock form an experienced backrow duo alongside Mangan, a Grand Slam-winner with the Ireland U20s last year. Conor O’Tighearnaigh, another member of that underage side, is in the secondrow alongside Brian Deeny, while Michael Milne starts at loosehead for his first appearance of the season.


John McKee and Rory McGuire join him in the frontrow.

On the bench, Gus McCarthy, the captain of that Ireland U20s outfit, is one of three uncapped players. Luke Kritzinger and Ruben Moloney are both in the province’s pre-academy and are among the 12 potential replacements. Kritzinger, a centre, was part of Blackrock College’s side that lost in last year’s Schools Cup final, while Moloney, a fullback, won the Senior Cup with the same school in 2022. Both play for UCD in the AIL.

Leinster: Henry McErlean; Aitzol King, Liam Turner, Ben Brownlee, Andrew Osborne; Sam Prendergast, Ben Murphy; Michael Milne, John McKee, Rory McGuire; Brian Deeny, Conor O’Tighearnaigh; Rhys Ruddock, Will Connors, Diarmuid Mangan.

Replacements from: Gus McCarthy, Paddy McCarthy, Thomas Clarkson, Temi Lasisi, Jason Jenkins, Scott Penny, Max Deegan, Fintan Gunne, Luke McGrath, Luke Kritzinger, Jamie Osborne.

Meanwhile Munster have also named their side for a friendly with Harlequins, also taking place on Friday night (7.45pm).

Alex Kendellen captains the 25-strong squad which features three academy players in starting XV. Fionn Gibbons and Shay McCarthy are on the wing while Ethan Coughlan partners Joey Carbery at halfback.

Mike Haley starts at fullback after returning from injury during last week’s win over the Scarlets, while Rory Scannell and Seán O’Brien line out at centre. Josh Wycherley, Scott BUckley and John Ryan form the frontrow, with Cian Hurley - fresh off returning from a long-term achilles injury - and Fineen Wycherley at lock.

Alongside Kendellen, Jack Daly and Jack O’Sullivan complete the backrow.

Among the replacements are current academy players Max Clein, a hooker formerly of Crescent College Comprehensive, and outhalf Dylan Hicks, of Bantry Bay RFC and Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí. Both are set for their first senior appearances for the province.

Cork Constitution lock Kamil Nowak, who featured against Crusaders, and Shannon RFC back Stephen Kiely, who lined out against Leinster in pre-season, are also on the bench.

Munster: Mike Haley; Fionn Gibbons, Seán O’Brien, Rory Scannell, Shay McCarthy; Joey Carbery, Ethan Coughlan; Josh Wycherley, Scott Buckley, John Ryan; Fineen Wycherley, Cian Hurley; Jack Daly, Alex Kendellen (capt), Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Max Clein, Mark Donnelly, Stephen Archer, Kamil Nowak, Daniel Okeke, Neil Cronin, Tony Butler, Dylan Hicks, Colm Hogan, Stephen Kiely.

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Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist