Ross Byrne starts for Leinster as Ulster captain Iain Henderson returns
Ulster and Leinster name their teams ahead of Saturday’s Pro14 final at Aviva Stadium
Ross Byrne is starting at outhalf for Leinster in the Pro14 final. File photograph: Inpho
Pro14 final: Leinster v Ulster
Kick-off: 7.35pm, Saturday. Venue: Aviva Stadium. How to follow: The Irish Times liveblog will begin at 7pm. On TV: Live on TG4, BBC NI and eir Sport.
Leinster captain Johnny Sexton has been named among the replacements for the Pro14 final against Ulster on Saturday evening (kick-off 7.35pm). Ross Byrne will wear the number 10 jersey, as head coach Leo Cullen keeps one eye on the Champions Cup clash with Saracens on Saturday week.
Cullen has made a number of changes from the team that accounted for Munster in the semi-final with Garry Ringrose named as captain for the first time.
The back three remains unchanged - Jordan Larmour is selected at fullback after coming through the graduated return to play protocols successfully this week with Hugo Keenan on the right wing and James Lowe on the left. Robbie Henshaw is again selected at inside centre with Ringrose outside him in the number 13 jersey.
The halfback partnership sees Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne start at nine and 10.
In the pack there is no change in the frontrow with Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher and Andrew Porter again selected. James Ryan has recovered from injury to take his place in the secondrow alongside Devin Toner. Caelan Doris remains at blindside flanker with Josh van der Flier at openside and finally Jack Conan will wear the number eight jersey. Neither Dan Leavy or Tadhg Furlong have been deemed fit enough to be included in the matchday squad.
Ulster have been boosted by the return of club captain, Iain Henderson, who will be making his first appearance since the season resumption, and is one of four changes to the side that defeated Edinburgh in last week’s thrilling semi-final at Murrayfield.
Alan O’Connor will partner Henderson in the secondrow, while the frontrow of Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Tom O’Toole is retained. The backrow sees one change, with Sean Reidy coming into the starting line-up at openside flanker. Matthew Rea takes the blindside flanker position and Marcell Coetzee packs down at number eight.
The back three sees two positional switches, with Jacob Stockdale moving to the left wing, while Rob Lyttle swaps over to the right. Joining them at fullback is Michael Lowry, returning to the starting XV. Stuart McCloskey continues his midfield partnership with James Hume. Former All Black scrumhalf, Alby Mathewson, will make his first start for Ulster alongside Billy Burns at outhalf.
Head coach Dan McFarland has named John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy and Nick Timoney on the bench as forward backup. The backline cover is provided by John Cooney and the semi-final match-winner Ian Madigan.
LEINSTER: Jordan Larmour; Hugo Keenan, Garry Ringrose (Capt), Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher, Andrew Porter; Devin Toner, James Ryan; Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Michael Bent, Scott Fardy, Will Connors, Luke McGrath, Johnny Sexton, Rory O’Loughlin.
ULSTER: Michael Lowry; Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Billy Burns, Alby Mathewson; Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring; Tom O’Toole; Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt); Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements: John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Nick Timoney.
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)