Ross Byrne to continue in pivotal role for Leinster at Thomond Park

Coach Leo Cullen denied the services of several big names for the clash with Munster

In the absence of Jonny Sexton and Joey Carbery, Ross Byrne will fill the outhalf berth for Leinster against Munster at Thomond Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

In the absence of Jonny Sexton and Joey Carbery, Ross Byrne will fill the outhalf berth for Leinster against Munster at Thomond Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Coach Leo Cullen will be without the services of some familiar names as Leinster face into the first of their festive interprovincial matches against Munster in Thomond Park on St Stephen’s Day.

With extra seating in the iconic venue, the sold out match will have 26,200 fans, its highest for a Pro 12 fixture. The previous highest Pro12 attendance was also for a Munster clash with Leinster, when the sides went toe-to-toe in the 2011 final in front of 26,100 fans.

Fullback Rob Kearney has not recovered from an ankle injury he sustained in the second half of Leinster’s European Champions Cup match against Northampton in Franklin’s Gardens and is unavailable for selection this week.

The Ireland and Leinster back will be reviewed early next week with a view of being available to face Ulster a the RDS on New Year’s Eve.

Outhalf Joey Carbery has also had a knock back and underwent an ankle operation last week for syndesmosis repair. Having had a stellar rise to international level in November the outhalf will be out for up to six weeks, while Leinster winger, Dave Kearney, is also on the mid range injury list.

Carbery’s operation means Leinster’s pivot position remains fragile and Ross Byrne will again be called into duty until Johnny Sexton returns or Carbery gets back.

Better news

Sexton’s situation is that he continues to be monitored in the Sports Injury Clinic in Dublin’s Santry. He has not played since injuring his hamstring during the November series of internationals and continues to rehabilitate. He may be available for Leinster’s game against Ulster.

There was better news for loosehead Cian Healy. The Irish prop, who was taken off for a head injury assessment in the 77th minute against Northampton, has been passed fit to play.

His removal from the game was precautionary after a touchline video was reviewed by the Leinster medical team, who believed he may have suffered a head trauma. Healy did not in fact suffer a head injury and is free to play.

There was good news for Billy Dardis, who has ended the rehab process for his shoulder and will take full part in training this week. He will be available for selection.

The Irish squad had a one-day get together with Joe Schmidt in their base at Carton House on Monday. The players, though, will return to their provinces for the remainder of the week with Cullen and Stuart Lancaster deciding what international positions to rest and who to play.

A number of the players will not play in both interprovincial matches and will be rested according to the IRFU’s player welfare programme.

Tighthead Mike Ross, utility back Fergus McFadden, backrow Jordi Murphy and outhalf Cathal Marsh remain on Leinster’s injury list and are unavailable for selection

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