Rob Kearney to captain Leinster against Scarlets; Ulster name two Academy players to face Benetton

The Leinster team to take on the Scarlets in the Guinness PRO14 at the RDS Arena tomorrow evening has been named by Leo Cullen.

Cullen has seven Leinster Academy players in the 23 but has been able to recall a number of senior players from injury and suspension as well as handing a potential debut off the bench to Academy forward Jack Dunne.

Rob Kearney is back from injury to take his place as captain at full back with Barry Daly on the right wing and James Lowe back from suspension on the left.

In the centre Academy back Conor O’Brien and Rory O’Loughlin are again named together having also started against Connacht in the Christmas interpro.

Hugh O’Sullivan makes his first start for Leinster having made his European debut off the bench only last weekend against Wasps. O’Sullivan will have Skerries RFC man Ciarán Frawley outside him in the number ten jersey.

In the pack, Jack McGrath, James Tracy and Michael Bent are the front row selected by Cullen with Ross Molony and Mick Kearney in the engine room.

The back row consists of Max Deegan, Scott Penny and Caelan Doris.

On the bench Leinster Academy forward Jack Dunne is in line to become the 1,276th Leinster player should he make an appearance at the RDS tomorrow.

The Ulster matchday squad has also been named for tomorrow's match against Benetton at Kingspan Stadium.

Just two points separate the four teams positioned 2nd-5th in Conference B, with Edinburgh, Benetton, Scarlets and Ulster all chasing a top three finish to secure a place in the end-of-season play-offs.

There are two personnel changes to Ulster backline that played in last Saturday’s 13-14 comeback win against Leicester Tigers in the Heineken Champions Cup, as Academy players Michael Lowry and James Hume are installed at fullback and outside centre respectively.

Another Academy player, Robert Baloucoune, who scored the match-winning try at Welford Road, is again selected on the right wing.

Dave Shanahan and Billy Burns are retained in the half back positions, with Stuart McCloskey lining out at inside centre and Louis Ludik named on the left wing.

Up front, Alan O’Connor takes over the captaincy from Rory Best and he will partner Kieran Treadwell in the second row. Andy Warwick and Rob Herring join Marty Moore in the front row, while there are three new faces in the back row as Ian Nagle, Nick Timoney and Greg Jones have earned call-ups.

Hooker John Andrew will win his 50th provincial cap if he's called upon from the bench, with Wiehahn Herbst, Tom O'Toole, Matthew Dalton, Clive Ross, Jonny Stewart, Darren Cave and Rob Lyttle also included in the matchday 23.

Leinster :

15. Rob Kearney (CAPTAIN) 14. Barry Daly 13. Rory O’Loughlin 12. Conor O’Brien 11. James Lowe 10. Ciarán Frawley 9. Hugh O’Sullivan 1. Jack McGrath 2. James Tracy 3. Michael Bent 4. Ross Molony 5. Mick Kearney 6. Max Deegan 7. Scott Penny 8. Caelan Doris

Replacements: 16. Bryan Byrne, 17. Ed Byrne, 18. Vakh Abdaladze, 19. Jack Dunne 20. Oisín Dowling 21. Jamison Gibson-Park 22. Noel Reid 23. Jimmy O’Brien

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl , 14 Ioan Nicholas, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Steff Hughes © , 11 Paul Asquith, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 1 Phil Price, 2 Marc Jones, 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Jake Ball, 5 David Bulbring, 6 Tom Price, 7 Dan Davis, 8 Josh Macleod

Replacements: 16 Dafydd Hughes, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Ed Kennedy, 21 Jon Evans, 22 Morgan Williams, 23 Tom Prydie

Ulster: M Lowry; R Baloucoune, J Hume, S McCloskey, L Ludik; B Burns, D Shanahan; A Warwick, R Herring, M Moore, A O’Connor (captain), K Treadwell, I Nagle, N Timoney, G Jones;

Replacements: J Andrew, W Herbst, T O'Toole, M Dalton, C Ross, J Stewart, D Cave, R Lyttle.

Benetton: 15 Luca Sperandio, 14 Ratuva Tavuyara, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Ian McKinley (C), 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Nicola Quaglio.

Substitutes: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Marco Barbini, 22 Edoardo Gori, 23 Ignacio Brex

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