Rob Kearney named at fullback as Leinster host Edinburgh

Luke Fitzgerald also returns from injury for the visit of Edinburgh to the RDS on Friday

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen will hope his team remain at the top of the Pro12 with a win over Edinburgh. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen will hope his team remain at the top of the Pro12 with a win over Edinburgh. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

 

Leinster’s Rob Kearney will return from injury to start in Friday night’s crucial Pro12 match against Edinburgh at the RDS Arena.

Kearney will start at fullback having last featured for Leinster in the Champions Cup match away to Wasps on January 23rd.

Luke Fitzgerald, who pulled up with an injury in the first half of Leinster’s game against Connacht three weeks ago, starts on the left wing, with Fergus McFadden completing the back three.

Ben Te’o and Noel Reid will start the game as Leinster’s midfield pairing, with Luke McGrath and Ian Madigan selected as the starting halfback partnership.

There is a new-look frontrow for Friday’s game with Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross in for Jack McGrath, Seán Cronin and Tadhg Furlong, who all started in the win over Munster.

Leinster Academy lock Ross Molony starts in the secondrow with Mick Kearney, who will make his fifth appearance for the province.

Rhys Ruddock captains Leinster from the backrow alongside Josh van der Flier, who will make his 12th start of the season, and Jordi Murphy, who starts at number eight.

A win over the Scottish side could keep Leinster at the top of the table with just two rounds of regular season games to go.

Leinster coach Leo Cullen offered an insight into resting Johnny Sexton and Jamie Heaslip while also taking time to welcome the return of Rob Kearney. Garry Ringrose is another whose recent workload sees him sit out this match.

“It is a great boost to have Rob back, he’d been struggling for a couple of weeks. We managed him back conservatively, he has trained well, and we are looking forward to seeing him play. There were a lot of tough choices in this team selection, we have used 56 players this season so there are 33 disappointed ones.

“Jonathan Sexton has had a couple of niggles so we’re trying to manage that, Jamie Heaslip has had a heavy workload but we have guys to come in but we want that competitive environment.

“We’re trying to manage what is best for the group, we feel we have a strong group and a lot of players have a lot of stake. We have three games left. Edinburgh have performed consistently this season. Training has had a bit of spice; it’s competitive because guys want to play.

“It is great to be back in the RDS. Hopefully we can get better weather than last four months as we have been forced to play in difficult conditions.

“There was a big national focus this season so it was difficult to lay down certain foundations but on the flip side we have used a lot of young players which will form its own foundation, as well as creating competition.”

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Noel Reid, Luke Fitzgerald; Ian Madigan, Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross; Ross Molony, Mick Kearney; Rhys Ruddock (Captain), Josh van der Flier, Jordi Murphy.

Replacements: Seán Cronin, Peter Dooley, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Dominic Ryan, Eoin Reddan, Cathal Marsh, Dave Kearney.

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