Leinster’s Garry Ringrose offered chance to shine in Pro12
Leo Cullen’s side determined to register first victory of season at home to Cardiff Blues
Garry Ringrose usually plays at outside centre but will get a run on the right wing. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Shortlisted for the World Under-20 Player of the Year in 2014, Garry Ringrose will finally make his Leinster debut.
Leo Cullen has handed the 20-year-old former Blackrock schoolboy the opportunity that the previous incumbent as Leinster head coach, Matt O’Connor did not, much to the chagrin of those who felt the lavishly gifted young centre deserved a chance on foot of his performances for the underage national side.
Ringrose, who usually plays at outside centre, gets a run on the right wing as Cullen looks for continuity in the midfield partnership of Noel Reid and Ben Te’o. Luke McGrath and Cathal Marsh continue at halfback, while Isa Nacewa captains the side from fullback in the absence of Kevin McLaughlin, who hasn’t recovered from the concussion he sustained last weekend.
Tom Denton suffered a similar fate to his captain and is replaced in the secondrow by the promising Ross Molony in his first start for Leinster having played twice last season and having impressed off the bench last week.
The 6ft 5in lock will have plenty of experience beside him as Mike McCarthy closes in on 300 professional club appearances.
Dominic Ryan replaces McLaughlin in a backrow that also sees Josh van der Flier promoted to the number seven jersey. Michael Bent, Aaron Dundon and Jamie Hagan will form an experienced frontrow.
Leinster once again boast a very young bench with Lansdowne pair Tadhg Beirne and Cian Kelleher joining the match-day squad.
Having pointed out that there were seven former St Michael’s pupils in the province’s 23 last weekend, let the record show there are eight for this match.
Table-toppers Cardiff Blues bring a decent side to Dublin and in outhalf Rhys Patchell have one of the most naturally gifted young players in the tournament. Leinster played in fits and starts last week, fading after a bright opening 20 minutes; they’ll need to be so much better this afternoon.