- Leinster have sent a “B team” to South Africa for URC games against the Sharks and Stormers.
- The Irish giants top the standings with 60 points, 10 points clear of second-placed Ulster.
- A weakened Leinster squad is good news for the fifth-placed Stormers and sixth-placed Sharks.
United Rugby Championship leaders Leinster have left several of their big guns at home for their two-week trip to South Africa.URC log
Leinster will face the Sharks in Durban this Saturday, before tackling the Stormers in Cape Town the following weekend.
The majority of the squad that thumped Connacht 57-20 in last Friday’s European Champions Cup clash are staying put in Dublin, as a quarter-final against Leicester Tigers looms in three weeks’ time.
Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Michael Ala’alatoa, Josh Murphy, Rhys Ruddock and Ciaran Frawley are the only survivors from the Connacht clash.
Flanker Ruddock will captain the squad in South Africa, while Ireland front-rankers Porter and Kelleher were included as they only recently returned to fitness having been injured in the Six Nations.
“Some guys will, I think, need a bit of game time over there and the big thing is the work that has gone into this, it’s a much wider group,” Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said, as quoted by the RTE Sport website.
“As we know if you want to stay alive in the two competitions you need a good chunk of guys, and Caelan (Doris) and some of the guys were taking it easy in camp during the Six Nations.
“We had some guys with their shoulders to the wheel back in base camp trying to push us up the mountain and carrying the load for all these guys.
“Huge credit goes into that group because they’ve done a fantastic job to get us into the situation that we have that bit of a lead, so it’s important to reward some of those guys with some more games as well. Those guys are itching to play now.”
Leinster comfortably top the URC standings with 60 points after 15 games, 10 points clear of second-placed Ulster.
The Stormers are fifth on 47 points and the Sharks sixth on 46.
Forwards: Ed Byrne, Peter Dooley, Michael Milne, Andrew Porter, Rónan Kelleher, John McKee, James Tracy, Vakh Abdaladze, Michael Ala’alatoa, Thomas Clarkson, Brian Deeny, Jack Dunne, Josh Murphy, Martin Moloney, Rhys Ruddock, Sean O’Brien, Scott Penny, Max Deegan, Alex Soroka
Backs: Cormac Foley, Nick McCarthy, Harry Byrne, David Hawkshaw, Tommy O’Brien, Rob Russell, Ciarán Frawley, Rory O’Loughlin, Jamie Osborne, Adam Byrne, Chris Cosgrave, Max O’Reilly