Johnny Sexton's last season to get going in Belfast on Friday night

For Sexton it is the first step of what is his last season as a player after confirmation earlier this year that he would be hanging up his boots after Ireland's World Cup campaign in France in late 2023.
Johnny Sexton's last season to get going in Belfast on Friday night

FAREWELL SEASON: Johnny Sexton. ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Johnny Sexton, James Ryan and Jack Conan are all set to make their season debuts for Leinster away to Ulster on Friday night.

Conan has been drafted straight into Leo Cullen’s starting XV for the BTK United Rugby Championship tie at Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium with Sexton and Ryan detailed to make appearances off the bench.

For Sexton it is the first step of what is his last season as a player after confirmation earlier this year that he would be hanging up his boots after Ireland's World Cup campaign in France in late 2023.

Ross Byrne starts at out-half this week. He takes over from Ciaran Frawley whose injury against Benetton at the RDS last week cost him a place in the Emerging Ireland squad currently in South Africa, while Conan is the only change in the forward pack.

Luke Marshall will make his 150th appearance for Ulster having made a superb return from injury when scoring the first try of the campaign in their win against Connacht. Their only change comes in the pack where Marcus Rea will join brother Matty in the back row.

As with Leinster, the hosts will boast a number of Ireland internationals on Friday night.

Ulster: M Lowry; A Sexton, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Burns, J Cooney; A Warwick, R Herring, T O’Toole; A O’Connor (Captain), K Treadwell; M Rea, M Rea, N Timoney.

Replacements: J Andrew, E O’Sullivan, M Moore, S Carter, G Jones, D Shanahan, A Curtis, B Moxham.

Leinster: J O'Brien; J Larmour, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, D Kearney; R Byrne, L McGrath; A Porter, D Sheehan, M Ala'alatoa; R Molony, J Jenkins; R Baird, J van der Flier, J Conan.

Replacements: R Kelleher, E Byrne, V Abdaladze, J Ryan, W Connors, N McCarthy, J Sexton, C Ngatai. 

Referee: Andrew Brace 

Connacht (v Vodacom Bulls):  O McNulty; J Porch, T Farrell, T Daly, M Hansen; D Hawkshaw, K Marmion; D Buckley, D Heffernan, F Bealham; L Fifita, O Dowling; J Murphy, C Oliver, J Butler.

Replacements: G Stewart, P Dooley, J Aungier, G Thornbury, S Hurley-Langton, C Reilly, B Ralston, C Booth.

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