Wednesday 18 January 2017

Leinster boosted by the return of Healy and Kearney

Published 26/08/2016 | 02:30

Rob Kearney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Rob Kearney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Cian Healy will make his first start for Leinster since April this evening when Leinster take on Bath at Donnybrook in what is their final pre-season friendly before the beginning of the Pro12 next Friday.

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The loosehead prop has spent four months on the sidelines as a result of respective neck and knee injuries and Leo Cullen will be hoping that the 28-year-old comes through his first hit-out unscathed.

In further good news for Leinster, Rob Kearney makes a welcome return having missed Ireland's tour to South Africa with a recurring hamstring problem.

Mike McCarthy (concussion) and Josh van der Flier (ankle) also make their comeback.

Newly-signed scrum-half Jamison Gibson Park will be eager to impress on his debut. The 24-year-old recently won a Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes.

Elsewhere in Irish Independent Park, Munster supporters will be relishing the prospect of seeing Tyler Bleyendaal back in action.

The hugely talented New Zealand-born out-half has been plagued with a quad injury since joining the Reds last season and he will be desperate to prove a point against Worcester Warriors.

South African second-row Jean Kleyn will make his debut and is likely to come up against Munster's most capped player Donncha O'Callaghan. Tommy O'Donnell and Simon Zebo also start.

Read more: Trimble ready to play captain's role

News of the return of Bleyendaal was blighted, however, by the confirmation that Mike Sherry is facing up to four months out with a back problem.

The hooker has already missed almost two years of action having undergone knee and shoulder surgeries and the latest procedure on his back will come as a major blow to him and to Munster.

Up in Belfast, Charles Piutau will make his first appearance at the Kingspan Stadium when he starts at full-back for Ulster's meeting with Northampton.

Former Munster out-half JJ Hanrahan starts on the bench for the Saints.

Irish Independent

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