Sunday 21 July 2019

O'Brien and Fardy set for bench duty as Leinster shuffle back row for Munster showdown

Van der Flier to make Leinster return as Carbery eyes start for Reds

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Josh van der Flier and Rhys Ruddock look set to be recalled to the Leinster team for tomorrow's Guinness PRO14 semi-final against Munster.

Despite losing a bruising European Champions Cup final against Saracens last Saturday, Leo Cullen appears likely to limit the changes to his team to two with Johnny Sexton on track to overcome a stinger injury and take his place.

Van der Flier has been out of action since January when he suffered a groin injury and was expected to miss the rest of the season, but has made a quicker than expected recovery.

His return would see Seán O’Brien drop to the bench, with Scott Fardy making way for Ruddock. It is expected that Fardy will be among the replacements as second-row cover, meaning Jamison Gibson-Park,  despite returning to full fitness, could miss out to accommodate James Lowe on the wing.

Joey Carbery is set to return to the Munster No 10 shirt opposite his Ireland rival for the first time since March. The former Leinster starlet has played just 32 minutes since the Six Nations win over Scotland on February 9, but will start if he comes through training today.

Keith Earls is also primed for a recall to the team after missing a number of big recent games with a thigh problem.

If that duo have proved their fitness this week, Munster will be at full strength and the big decisions for Johann van Graan will be at full-back and replacement out-half where he must pick between Tyler Bleyendaal and the in-form JJ Hanrahan.

Irish Independent

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