Ed Byrne in Leinster 23 and in line to make long awaited return

Irish internationals Fergus McFadden and Rhys Ruddock back in XV for Dragons trip

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made eight changes to his team for Friday's trip to Rodney Parade to take on the Dragons .

There is a welcome return to the starting XV for Irish internationals Fergus McFadden and Rhys Ruddock while Carlow man Ed Byrne is also in line to make his long awaited return after over two years out through injury.

Byrne hasn’t played a competitive senior game for Leinster in nearly 28 months having suffered two serious knee injuries - one against Edinburgh in the Pro12 in October 2014, and the other against Ulster in a pre-season friendly nearly a year later.

Should he be introduced, he will win Leinster cap number six and his first since the October 31st 2014.


Joey Carbery starts his first game for Leinster at full back, although the Athy native has moved back into the position on a number of occasions already this season - most recently against both Treviso and Edinburgh.

Adam Byrne starts on the right wing, looking to add to his tally of nine tries in all competitions this season. On the left wing Fergus McFadden is back for his first game since Cardiff Blues in October. Injury has restricted the Kildare man to only two games in total all season.

It’s a new centre combination with Noel Reid and Zane Kirchner at 12 and 13 respectively.

A day after his 25th birthday Jamison Gibson-Park picks up cap number 21 at scrumhalf while outside him UCD’s Ross Byrne plays in the 10 jersey.

In the pack Peter Dooley again lines up at loose head prop with Richardt Strauss back to captain the side from hooker and Michael Bent to his right at tighthead for his 80th Leinster cap.

It’s as you were in the second row with Ross Molony and Mike McCarthy again leading the Leinster charge from the engine room.

Behind Molony and McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock returns from a quad injury to start at blind side flanker while Meath man Peadar Timmins will make his first start for Leinster at open side having made five appearances off the bench to date. Jack Conan will scrum down at number eight.

LEINSTER: Joey Carbery; Adam Byrne, Zane Kirchner, Noel Reid, Fergus McFadden; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Peter Dooley, Richardt Strauss (captain), Michael Bent; Ross Molony, Mike McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock, Peadar Timmins, Jack Conan.

Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Mike Ross, Hayden Triggs, Max Deegan, Luke McGrath, Cathal Marsh, Barry Daly.