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Leinster Rugby team to play Zebre – Debuts for Liam Turner and Dan Sheehan

The Leinster Rugby team to play Zebre – Debuts for Liam Turner and Dan Sheehan who start with Ciaran Parker and David Hawkshaw on the bench (Kick Off: 7.35pm – live on TG4 and Eir Sport).

The match will be played at the RDS Arena but with Level 5 restrictions in place the game will again be played behind closed doors with only a limited number of media in attendance.

Cullen has named a total of four uncapped players in his match day 23, with two players from the Academy included in the quartet. There is also a welcome return from injury for a number of players.

The back three selected are all making their first starts of the campaign. Both Jimmy O’Brien and Tommy O’Brien impressed off the bench last weekend away to Benetton Rugby while Dave Kearney is just back from a hamstring injury to win his 150th cap for Leinster.

In the centre Ciarán Frawley is joined for his first cap by former Blackrock College captain Liam Turner. The 21-year-old centre has ten Ireland U20s caps and was part of the 2019 U20s Grand Slam winning side. He is currently studying BESS in Trinity College.

In the half backs Luke McGrath is joined by Harry Byrne for his first start of the season.

In the pack Peter Dooley makes a welcome return to the team for the first time since February. In addition to Covid-19 disruptions, Dooley had been out injured with a shoulder injury.

Michael Bent starts at tighthead prop with Dan Sheehan making his debut between Dooley and Bent at hooker.

Sheehan, 22, was promoted to a senior contract during the summer but has been unavailable for the last while with a cheekbone injury. The Dublin University FC player, who previously attended Clongowes Wood College, has five caps with the Ireland U20s.

In the second row Ross Molony and Devin Toner bring plenty of experience with nearly 350 Leinster caps between them. Toner will win his 250th cap at the RDS Arena tomorrow evening, while Molony is getting close to his century of caps.

The back row isn’t lacking in experience either with Josh Murphy, Scott Penny and captain Rhys Ruddock completing the starting XV for Leinster.

On the bench, Ciarán Parker is in line to make his Leinster debut should he be introduced. The 25-year-old signed for Leinster last month on loan from Jersey Reds having previously played with Sale Sharks and Munster Rugby.

David Hawkshaw is the final player in line to make his debut for Leinster as the former Coolmine RFC and Belvedere College player looks to make an impact off the bench. The 21-year-old was the captain of the 2019 Ireland U20s Grand Slam winning side until a knee ligament injury put an end to his campaign. The DCU student (studying Humanities) only recently returned to action coming off the bench for Leinster ‘A’ against Ulster ‘A’ but this will be his first competitive game since the injury.

Finally, Dan Leavy is in line to make his comeback. The Leinster and Ireland backrow has been out since March 2019 when he injured his knee in the Champions Cup Quarter-Final against Ulster at the Aviva Stadium.

Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):

15. Jimmy O’Brien (19),
14. Tommy O’Brien (4),
13. Liam Turner (0),
12. Ciarán Frawley (27),
11. Dave Kearney (149),
10. Harry Byrne (11),
9. Luke McGrath (129),
1. Peter Dooley (76),
2. Dan Sheehan (0),
3. Michael Bent (142),
4. Devin Toner (249),
5. Ross Molony (97),
6. Josh Murphy (33),
7. Scott Penny (14),
8. Rhys Ruddock (175) CAPTAIN,

16. James Tracy (111),
17. Michael Milne (9),
18. Ciaran Parker (0),
19. Jack Dunne (7),
20. Scott Fardy (62),
21. Hugh O’Sullivan (20),
22. David Hawkshaw (0),
23. Dan Leavy (63)

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