Leo Cullen hands Josh Murphy first start for Leinster

Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen has handed a first start to Josh Murphy in tonight’s Guinness PRO14 clash with the Dragons at the RDS Arena (7.35pm).

Murphy is chosen alongside Jordi Murphy (93 caps) and another talented youngster Max Deegan (7) in the back row of a pack that boasts 403 caps.

The most experienced of that group is hooker Sean Cronin who has already played 137 times for the province but Michael Bent (95) and Ross Molony (52) bring plenty of experience to the table too.

Cullen recalls a number of players from injury including skipper Isa Nacewa and Fergus McFadden, both of whom are heading towards the 200 appearance mark for the province.

Jordan Larmour comes in for his seventh appearance at full back, while Noel Reid and Rory O’Loughlin are partnered together in the centre for the fourth time this season.

Richardt Strauss is expected to come off the bench to win his 150th cap and there is to be a first involvement of the season for Ian Nagle who has returned from a pectoral muscle injury Meanwhile, Dragons centre Adam Warren is hoping to help his side to a further boost following a surprise Anglo-Welsh Cup win over Scarlets last week but admits Leinster will be favourites.

“It’s a big challenge and there will be patches when we have to ride the storm, because they always raise their intensity at home.”

Leinster:

J Larmour, F McFadden, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, I Nacewa (captain), R Byrne, J Gibson-Park, E Byrne, S Cronin, M Bent, R Molony, S Fardy, Josh Murphy, Jordi Murphy, M Deegan.

Replacements:

R Strauss, P Dooley, A Porter, I Nagle, J Conan, N McCarthy, C Marsh, C O’Brien.

Dragons:

A O’Brien, J Rosser, A Warren, J Dixon, A Hewitt, G Henson, S Pretorius, S Hobbs, E Shipp, L Fairbrother, J Davies, M Screech, A Wainwright, O Griffiths (captain), J Benjamin.

Replacements; G Ellis, L Garrett, B Harris, R Landman, B Roach, D Babos, A Robson, C Edwards.


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