Leo Cullen waiting on fitness assessment of key trio for Ulster tie at sold-out Aviva

Garry Ringrose during a Leinster Rugby squad training session at UCD in Dublin. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

The last remaining tickets for Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup round-of-16 clash against Ulster were sold last night, making tomorrow’s game the first 52,300-strong sell-out the province have had at the venue since the 2019 meeting between the same sides at the quarter-final stage.

It’s just Leinster’s second sell-out of the entire campaign, with more than 7,000 Ulster fans expected for the knockout clash that will see members of Ireland’s Grand Slam side go head-to-head for the first time since toasting their success at the same venue.

Ross Byrne is expected to start at out-half for Leinster in Johnny Sexton’s absence, with Leo Cullen monitoring the health of Hugo Keenan, Garry Ringrose and Caelan Doris, who are going through the concussion protocols in the wake of knocks with Ireland.

If that trio miss out, it’s expected that Jimmy O’Brien would come in at full-back with Jordan Larmour and James Lowe on the wings, while Robbie Henshaw would partner Ciarán Frawley in midfield.

Up front, Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan and Tadhg Furlong are likely to make up the front-row, with Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan in the back-row, with one of Cullen’s biggest decisions coming between Ross Molony and Jason Jenkins to partner James Ryan in the second-row.

Ulster, meanwhile, are missing long-term absentees Iain Henderson and Marty Moore for the clash, but otherwise have a strong squad to choose from.

Both teams are named at noon today, as are that of Munster, who take on the Sharks in Durban, and Connacht, who face Benetton in the Challenge Cup.