Byrne keen to make most of op­por­tu­nity

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY - JOHN O’SUL­LI­VAN

South­ern Kings v Le­in­ster Madibaz sta­dium, to­mor­row, 12.45pm, Eir Sport, Premier Sports

Ed Byrne knows that these are the weeks when the younger play­ers are handed op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In the ab­sence of Cian Healy and Jack McGrath he’s been handed the num­ber one jer­sey, one of sev­eral squad play­ers that share sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances, all keen to make a pos­i­tive im­pres­sion.

He ex­plained: “Es­pe­cially on the loose­head side of things it’s very com­pet­i­tive, so ev­ery­one’s hun­gry for game time and want­ing to make the most of it when they get it. This month is some­thing we look for­ward to.”

There are seven changes to the side that ham­mered Benet­ton 31-3 last week­end but it is a cou­ple that re­main from the start­ing team that will com­man­deer the head­lines.

Scott Fardy’s cap­tains Le­in­ster for the first time in a com­pet­i­tive match while Dan Leavy has been re­leased by the na­tional squad to ac­cu­mu­late game time fol­low­ing his calf in­jury. He played in Italy last week­end.

Conor O’Brien is pro­moted to the start­ing team fol­low­ing his try-scor­ing cameo as a re­place­ment last week, while Dave Kear­ney and Noel Reid come into the back­line. Ed Byrne, Michael Bent, Ross Molony and Josh Mur­phy are all in­tro­duced to the run-on team.

Celtic Cup

On the bench, Clon­tarf tight­head prop Vakh Ab­dal­adze, Sk­er­ries-born out­half Ciarán Fraw­ley, who has re­cov­ered from a wrist in­jury and Lans­downe and Ire­land Sevens cen­tre Tom Daly are all in line to make their first com­pet­i­tive ap­pear­ances of the sea­son for the se­nior side. In­deed all eight re­place­ments were part of the Celtic Cup fi­nal win­ning squad.

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