Baltinglass man Peadar Timmins will again captain the Leinster ‘A’ team when they face English Championship side Rotherham Titans in the British & Irish Cup this Saturday. The Wicklow man starts in the back row with Dan Leavy and Tony Ryan.
With Carlow man Tom Daly captaining the Ireland Men’s Sevens squad in Spain this weekend, Steve Crosbie comes in at inside centre to partner Tom Farrell in midfield.
Fellow Carlow man Bryan Byrne and Royce Burke-Flynn from the north Dublin club start in the front row alongside Lansdowne’s Peter Dooley.
Tadhg Beirne remains in the second row from the defeat to Connacht Eagles in Donnybrook last week, with Gavin Thornbury coming in to replace David O’Connor.
Billy Dardis starts at full-back to make his second start of the season for the ‘A’ team. His last appearance came in the win over Munster ‘A’ in Donnybrook last month.
There is plenty of Guinness PRO12 experience to complete the Leinster back three with Darragh Fanning and Mick McGrath starting on the wings.
The half-back pairing from the defeat to Connacht is retained, with Charlie Rock at scrum-half and Ross Byrne the starting out-half.
Ireland capped front-rower Michael Bent is named on the bench, as is lock Ross Molony who has started five games in the Guinness PRO12 this season for Leinster.
Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie ahead of their first game in this season’s British & Irish Cup, captain Timmins said, “We’ve been building nicely and obviously had good wins against Munster and Ulster in the Interpros. Disappointing naturally last day out against Connacht but it was all with a view to building towards this first weekend.
“We showed in some of those games like the second half against Ulster that when we do have the right mindset we are a good team. But similarly the second half against Munster or against Connacht, when we don’t have that ball focus we can get caught out.
“So the Interpros have been a great learning for us as a group. We were building nicely, training away and now we can’t wait to get stuck in this weekend.”
Timmins also spoke about the start to the season for himself and the Baltinglass native has been happy with his form so far.
“Obviously with the Irish lads away there was more of an opportunity to train with the senior team and I think I can speak for all the Academy lads, that we’ve loved the step up and training with the senior lads as they prepared for the Guinness PRO12. But it has also benefited us as we look towards the B&I Cup. We know that if we perform well here that this is a stepping stone as well so we there is huge motivation to go out on Saturday and put in a performance.”
Coach Hugh Hogan also spoke ahead of the game and while happy with their progress over the three games, reinforced the importance of a good start for a young group of players.
“They’re a good bunch of lads, very eager to take on board what Shaun (Berne) and I say to them but they know that we need a better performance against Rotherham. We need better fight and an ability to build more width in our defence but we have seen in games like the Ulster game where we withstood 15, 20 phases at a time and kept good discipline to not concede penalties, that we can do that really really well. That discipline and shape will be important again.
“The Connacht game was excellent prep and actually the whole series of Interpro games has been brilliant. The profile of the guys is very young, some Year 1 Academy, four under-20 players I think and it’s great to blood them at this level and then obviously great to get a few senior players as well.
“We’re looking forward to the game and seeing where we get to over the course of the competition.”
Leinster ‘A’ team v Rotherham Titans, Clifton Lane, Saturday, 14th November, British & Irish Cup (KO 2pm)
15. Billy Dardis
14. Darragh Fanning
13. Tom Farrell
12. Steve Crosbie
11. Mick McGrath
10. Ross Byrne
9. Charlie Rock
1. Peter Dooley
2. Bryan Byrne
3. Royce Burke-Flynn
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. Gavin Thornbury
6. Peadar Timmins CAPTAIN
7. Dan Leavy
8. Tony Ryan
16. Sean McNulty
17. Michael Bent
18. Ross Molony
19. Josh Murphy
20. Joey Carbery
21. Harrison Brewer
22. Rory O’Loughlin