Fergus McFadden back for Leinster’s visit to Dragons

Winger makes his third start of the season while Joey Carbery starts at fullback

Dragons v Leinster,  Rodney Parade (Kick Off: 7.30pm – no TV or radio coverage).

Fergus McFadden makes a welcome return to the Leinster wing for what will be just his third game of the season. Rhys Ruddock is also back at blindside flanker as coach Leo Cullen makes a number of changes from last week, when Leinster finished the match against Edinburgh with only 14 players.

Joey Carbery, after the fuss of whether Joe Schmidt would invite him back into the Irish squad, starts at fullback and not outhalf where the consistently good Ross Byrne stakes his claim. Zane Kirchner, who has played a number of positions on the back line, moves to outside centre where he forms a new partnership with Noel Reid at 12.

Ed Byrne is also in line to make a long-awaited return from the bench. His story is one of perseverance following two knee injuries and he hasn't played a competitive senior game in almost 28 months. The first injury occurred against Edinburgh in October 2014 and the second against Ulster in August 2015.


In all Cullen has made four changes in the backs – as well as two positional switches – and four changes in the pack.

Carbery’s shift at 15 is nothing new as he has played there a number of times this season, most recently against Treviso and Edinburgh, while McFadden takes to the pitch for the first time since last October. Adam Byrne on the right wing hopes to add to his tally of nine tries.

Hooker Richardt Strauss captains the side with Ruddock in with Peadar Timmins, who will be making his first start for Leinster at open side flanker.

Struggling Dragons are 10th to Leinster’s second on the table.

DRAGONS: C Mayer; A Hughes, T Morgan, J Dixon, P Howard; D Jones, T Knoyle; S Hobbs, E Dee, B Harris, N Crosswell, R Landman, O Griffiths, N Cudd, L Evans (capt). Replacements: R Buckley, T Davies, L Fairbrother, M Screech, H Keddie, S Pretorius, A O'Brien, A Warren.

LEINSTER: J Carbery; A Byrne, Z Kirchner, N Reid, F McFadden; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park, P Dooley, R Strauss (capt), M Bent, R Moloney, M McCarthy, R Ruddock, P Timmons, J Conan. Replacements: J Tracy, E Byrne, M Ross, H Triggs, M Deegan, L McGrath, C Marsh, B Daly.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR).

Verdict:  Leinster.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times