Thursday 22 February 2018

Leinster boosted by the return of Healy and Kearney

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

Cian Tracey

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.

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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