Kidney puts faith in experimental squad

LEINSTER coach Declan Kidney has chosen an experimental 37-man squad for pre-season friendlies in England.

They play Coventry tonight (7.30pm) and Worcester on Saturday (2pm) as they prepare for the first Celtic League match on Sunday week against Cardiff Blues in Donnybrook.

Ex-Connacht centre Shane Moore is one of six Clontarf players named in the squad alongside John Duffy, David McAllister, David Hewitt, Aidan Kearney and Ben Gissing. There are also places for Blackrock College backrow Tom O’Donoghue and his clubmate, Conor Kilroy, who sealed victory in last week’s 16-13 defeat of Worcester with a last gasp penalty.

There are also places for UCD’s Simon Crawford, Kevin Croke, Dara Geraghty and Gareth Hayes. Leo Cullen is captain while Ireland stars Victor Costello and Emmett Byrne should take some part in Saturday’s game against Worcester.

Ulster coach Mark McCall named Neil McMillan as skipper despite Andy Ward’s return to the starting line-up for Saturday’s pre-season match-up against Gwent Dragons at Newport ahead of the opening Celtic League clash against Edinburgh the following week.

Ward only came on a replacement in the defeat by Harlequins last Friday. Ward, captain for the past three seasons, got his place back in one of four changes, but will now have to take orders from his young back-row partner.

Neil Doak will start in place of Kieran Campbell at scrum-half while Tommy Bowe comes in for Andy Maxwell on the left wing. Jonny Bell returns at inside centre for his first start in over a year following ankle surgery.

LEINSTER TOURING SQUAD: Forwards: E Byrne, P Coyle, G Hickie, D Blaney, A O’Donnell (Arklow), W O’Dowd (Coolmine), S Barretto, J Moran (UCD), L Cullen (Captain), B Gissing, S Crawford (UCD), A Kearney (Clontarf), A McCullen, V Costello, C Potts, N Ronan, S Jennings, D Dillon, T O’Donoghue, K Croke, J Duffy Backs: B O’Riordan, D Geraghty (UCD), E Burke (Barnhall), D McAllister, D Hewitt (Clontarf), C Warner, S Moore (Clontarf), D Quinlan, G Brown, K Kennedy (Lansdowne), F Baynes (Lansdowne), G Hayes (UCD), James Norton, J McWeeney, C Kilroy (Blackrock) .

ULSTER: B Cunningham; J Topping, S Stewart, J Bell, T Bowe; P Wallace, N Doak; R McCormack, P Shields, R Moore; M Mustchin, R Frost; N Best, N McMillan, capt, A Ward. Replacements: K Campbell; P Steinmetz; S Mallon; A Maxwell, B Young; N Brady; S Shawe; T Barker; C Feather.

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