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‘He should be good to go’ – Leo Cullen ‘excited’ to have James Ryan back for Leinster


James Ryan receives medical attention playing for Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile

James Ryan receives medical attention playing for Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile

James Ryan receives medical attention playing for Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile

James Ryan will make his first appearance since March 12, as the lock returns to the Leinster team for Saturday's Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Leicester at Welford Road.

As reported in Friday's Irish Independent, Ryan has been recalled following a spell out with a concussion, which he suffered during Ireland's Six Nations win in Twickenham.

Ryan's return is a major boost to Leo Cullen, who can recall his front-liners who didn't travel to South Africa in recent weeks.

"James is such a key guy for us over the last number of years, for Leinster and Ireland,” Cullen said.

“It's good to see him back, he's come through everything. We could have pushed him for those Connacht games earlier, but he's been working away, training for the last four or five weeks, so he should be good to go. We're excited to see him back out there.”

Hugo Keenan, Jimmy O'Brien and James Lowe make up the back three, as Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose renew their centre partnership.

Johnny Sexton captains the side and is partnered at half-back by Jamison Gibson-Park.

Up front, Rónan Kelleher has overcome a shoulder injury to start in a powerful front-row alongside Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong.

Ryan and Ross Molony are in the engine, while an all Ireland international back-row of Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan complete what is a formidable Leinster team.

Talented young lock Joe McCarthy is in line for his European debut off the bench, with Dan Sheehan, Cian Healy, Michael Ala'alatoa and Rhys Ruddock also providing forward cover. Luke McGrath, Ross Byrne and Tommy O'Brien make up the back-line replacement.

Cullen is expecting a huge test against the Premiership leaders at his old stomping ground.

“It's the traditional DNA of Leicester Tigers, which is very, very strong fundamentals, a strong set-piece,” the Leinster head coach warned.

“I know from my time there, I can still remember the Tuesday mornings and the work they put in. It's based on hard work, their game. It always has been, that they build a lot of their success on hard graft, as they would say.

“They're a very workman-like team, at the moment they brought in a fair bit of international star quality among some of the local guys they have there.

“They've a very strong kicking game in their half-backs with George Ford and Ben Youngs, around set-piece in particular. Their lineout drive has always been a huge part of their game, they're a team that works hard, so there's a lot to like about what they're doing over there at the moment.

"Set-piece will be huge,” Cullen added.

“It's the work that they put in for each other. If you see their game against Bristol at the weekend, it sums up the way they've played this season. They bring a lot of intensity to the game, I know there was quite a bit of emotion in the ground last week with Tom Youngs leading the team out.

“It's based on the strong fundamentals, their game-plan, in terms of set-piece, strong kicking game, strong chasing game. Kevin Sinfield, who's worked as their defence coach, I know what a strong character he is and you can see that in the players themselves. They have that strong work ethic, which is all important.”

Leinster – H Keenan; J O'Brien, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, J Lowe; J Sexton (capt), J Gibson-Park; A Porter, R Kelleher, T Furlong; R Molony, J Ryan; C Doris, J van der Flier, J Conan. Reps: D Sheehan, C Healy, M Ala'alatoa, J McCarthy, R Ruddock, L McGrath, R Byrne, T O'Brien.

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