Leinster’s strength-in-depth key for Southern Kings test

Return of several big names adds international freight to Leo Cullen’s side

Leo Cullen: “Neither of those players [Jamison Gibson-Park and Isa Nacewa] were in the starting XV so in terms of disruptions to the group it is pretty minimal.” Photograph: Mike Sheehan/Inpho

Leo Cullen: “Neither of those players [Jamison Gibson-Park and Isa Nacewa] were in the starting XV so in terms of disruptions to the group it is pretty minimal.” Photograph: Mike Sheehan/Inpho

 

Southern Kings v Leinster, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 1.15pm (Live TG4)

Even with their Lions chilling in Dublin and their captain not available for Leinster’s historic first Pro14 match in South Africa, there is a sense that Leinster will have to suffer some sort of systematic failure not to get this one over the line.

Leo Cullen has picked a team that is talented, in areas lacking some wise old heads but with an exciting backrow line-up. Jamison Gibson-Park and Isa Nacewa returned to Dublin on Thursday and successfully applied for a visa from the South African Embassy. They will rejoin the squad on Sunday in Cape Town and so a clerical blunder has forced them to miss the first match.

Connacht put 32 points on the Kings last week and although this is a different environment, the South African side have come clean that they are rebuilding their side after a clear-out of players following the last Super Rugby season.

Despite Leinster’s light feel, Jordi Murphy and Dave Kearney, both back from injury, Jack Conan, Rhys Ruddock, Sean Cronin and Joey Carbery, also returning from injury, bring international freight to the side.

Outhalf Ross Byrne again teams up at halfback with Luke McGrath for the second week in a row.

In the front row Cullen knows that props Ed Byrne with nine Leinster caps and Andrew Porter with 10 caps may lack some experience, while lock James Ryan starts for Leinster for the first time.

But with James Tracy, Michael Bent and Cian Healy on the bench Cullen has plenty of front row depth to bring into the match. The visa incident, said the coach, was not disruptive.

“We named to the group the starting XV on the Tuesday before we left. Neither of those players were in the starting XV so in terms of disruptions to the group it is pretty minimal,” said Cullen. “The two players had travelled to South Africa with Super Rugby teams in the past and not needed visas. They were asked if they needed visas, which they hadn’t. . . so that was an oversight on our part.”

SOUTHERN KINGS: M Banda; Y Penxe, B Klaasen, L Vulindlu, S Sithole; K Coleman, R van Rooyen; S Ferriera, M Willemse, L Pupouma, S Greeff, D van Schalkwyk, K Majola, V Sekekete, A Ntsila.

Replacements: S Coetzee, P Strauss, M Dreyer, B de Wee, S Mdaka, G Masimla, N Dukisa, O Zona, J Nel.

LEINSTER: J Carbery; A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, D Kearney; L McGrath, R Byrne; E Byrne, S Cronin, A Porter; R Molony, J Ryan; R Ruddock (capt), J Murphy, J Conan.

Replacements: J Tracy, C Healy, M Bent, M Kearney, J van der Flier, N McCarthy, C Marsh, J Larmour.

Referee: B Whitehouse (WRU).

Verdict: Leinster win

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.