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A Penny for his Leinster debut

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Scott Penny

Scott Penny

Scott Penny

The Leinster Academy is something of a production line.

It takes a potentially special player to make his PRO14 debut just five months out of leaving school. However, 19-year-old Scott Penny is all set for his Leinster bow against Ospreys at the RDS tomorrow night (Live TG4, KO 7.35).

It says everything about the impression Penny made on Leinster Academy manager Peter Smyth that he was offered a full academy position earlier this year when the senior side is stocked with Sean O'Brien, Josh van der Flier and Dan Leavy, the first, second and third choice Ireland sevens, though not necessarily in that order.

In behind, Will Connors signed a contract in the summer before an anterior cruciate ligament injury intervened.

While the cupboard appears to be bare, in terms of openside options, Leinster coach Leo Cullen could easily just draft one of his blindsides or number eights in at seven for tomorrow evening.

Instead, he will trust the eyes and ears of all that have seen Penny.

Formerly a three-year Senior Cup starter out of St Michael's College in Dublin, he was terrific for Leinster A in their journey to claim the first ever Celtic Cup last month.

In fact, he ended up as the top try-scorer, with eight touchdowns from his six matches.

Penny would be the first to admit most of them came from the comfort of an armchair ride at the rear of a maul or from close-range jabs.

The work-rate and technical excellence make Penny a natural throwback to the sevens of old, a Neil Back type, just bigger at 6ft and 100kg.

Cullen has worked with Penny in recent weeks, most notably when the teenager was taken on the six-day trip to play the Southern Kings in South Africa.

There, Penny just missed out on his first appearance when assigned duties as the 24th man.

It will mean he will make his Leinster debut before playing for UCD in the All-Ireland League or even for the Ireland U-20s.

The Ospreys game won't be the first wing James Lowe will turn out at the RDS.

However, it will be the first time his parents will be there to see Leinster's fan favourite go to work.

"It's an exciting time and I know they're excited," said Lowe yesterday.

"It was my Dad's 60th on Saturday and I mean I keep it quite quiet. He was telling the bloody world, he had a few pints shouted for him.

"He really enjoyed himself and, hopefully on Friday, if I get to run out at the RDS, it will be another special occasion."


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