The SENSATIONAL XV Leinster could field with All Blacks star Jordie Barrett and Springboks powerhouse RG Snyman

Jared Wright
All Blacks back Jordie Barrett and Springboks forward RG Snyman.

All Blacks back Jordie Barrett and Springboks forward RG Snyman.

Leinster have strengthened their squad ahead of the 2024/25 season, adding Springbok RG Snyman and All Black Jordie Barrett to their ranks.

The Irish province already has a star-studded team, with many of the players making up the core of Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad.

However, the signings of Snyman and Barrett, the latter on a short-term deal for the latter part of the season, adds further world-class quality to the squad that will be expected to go deep in both the United Rugby Championship and Investec Champions Cup.

We take a look at the sensational matchday 23 that Leo Cullen could field next season.

15 Hugo Keenan

A straightforward choice at full-back as Hugo Keenan has been consistently one of the best number 15s for club and country in recent years.

Even if Keenan were to be sidelined with an injury or hit an unprecedented dip in form, Cullen and Jacques Nienaber would be spoilt for choice for his replacement.

Jimmy O’Brien has been out for much of the 2023/24 season, but upon his return, he could press for a spot on the wing or full-back and is even an option in the centres. The same can be said of Jordan Larmour, who can play across the back-three as can All Black Barrett.

Charlie Ngatai can also fill the role at full-back, as can utility back Ciaran Frawley.

14 Jimmy O’Brien

Larmour has been in excellent form this season and could retain the position, but Jimmy O’Brien was a regular starter for Leinster in the big games last season on the wing.

Again, Leinster will have no shortage of options with many already mentioned above while Rob Russell, Liam Turner, Tommy O’Brien and Andrew Osborne all rising up the ranks.

13 Robbie Henshaw

The Leinster bosses could have the luxury of picking horses for courses in so many positions next season and have a ludicrous amount of depth, particularly in the centres.

As already mentioned, Barrett could fill both centre roles, as could Robbie Henshaw, and with Garry Ringrose struggling with his injuries recently, Henshaw has made the number 13 jersey his own.

Form and fitness will likely dictate who starts in the role next season and right now Henshaw is that man for Leinster, hence why we have opted for him at outside centre.

12 Jordie Barrett

Jordie Barrett during the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup warm-up against the Springboks.

Jordie Barrett during the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup warm-up against the Springboks.

The youngest Barrett brother is a true superstar and world-class talent across the backline, having starred in the outside backs for the Hurricanes and All Blacks earlier in his career.

He has also dabbled at fly-half on occasion but recently he has settled in the midfield for the ‘Canes and All Blacks and was standout for Ian Foster’s side in their run to the Rugby World Cup final.

While Osborne has shone recently at inside centre, and Henshaw is a world-class talent himself, Barrett is a superstar luxury signing for Leinster, so why not play him in his preferred position?

11 James Lowe

Sure, Leinster have plenty of options on the right wing, but on the left, it is pretty much a one-horse race with James Lowe the clear starter for the province and Ireland.

He has been in sensational form for both this season and is bound to be one of the first names on the teamsheet going forward.

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10 Ross Byrne

Again, no lack of options. Ross Byrne showed his quality in the quarter-final victory over La Rochelle in the Investec Champions Cup but he is constantly under pressure to perform with Frawley and his younger brother Harry Byrne breathing down his neck. Sam Prendergast is the youngest of the fly-half options but is just waiting to break through and show his potential in the role.

9 Jamison Gibson-Park

Much like Lowe, Jamison Gibson-Park is the clear first-choice selection at scrum-half. There is no doubting his class and he is essential to the way Ireland and Leinster play.

Luke McGrath often skippers Leinster while Cormac Foley is a rising star but in the big matches, Gibson-Park is bound to be starting.

8 Caelan Doris

Tipped to be the long-term successor to Johnny Sexton as Ireland captain, Caelan Doris is comfortably the first choice starting back-rower for Leinster.

Cullen and Nienaber have the added bonus of bringing British and Irish Lion Jack Conan off the bench or even starting Doris on the flank as their depth is not limited to the backs.

Max Deegan never lets Leinster down in the number eight jumper either and is constantly pressing for Ireland selection, while Rhys Ruddock could still be an option if he remains in Dublin.

7 Josh van der Flier

Former World Rugby Player of the Year Josh van der Flier is usually the first-choice number seven for Leinster, but they still have options in fellow Irish international Will Connors and the always-consistent Scott Penny.

Alex Soroka’s development has been stalled through injury, but he too, is a great prospect for the position.

6 Ryan Baird

After starting out as a second-rower for Leinster, Ryan Baird has been favoured in the blindside flanker position for the Dubliners and Ireland.

The hard-working and frankly rapid forward looks to have a long future in the number six jersey, and with further signings at lock, he looks set to continue on the side of the scrum.

Ruddock, Brian Deeny, Conan and Martin Moloney are among the other options for the number six jersey.

5 James Ryan

While he slipped down the pecking order for Ireland during the Six Nations and has been sidelined since with an injury, when James Ryan is back and fully fit, he will more than likely start for Leinster and perhaps even skipper the side.

He will combine in a formidable second-row pairing with Snyman with other options including Deeny and academy products Diarmuid Mangan and Conor O’Tighearnaigh.

4 RG Snyman

Joe McCarthy has enjoyed a blockbuster year in the blue and green jerseys of Leinster and Ireland, but when it comes to the big matches, you’d expect to see Snyman paired with Ryan.

Whether it’s McCarthy or Snyman in the starting line-up, the other will provide real grunt and impact from the bench.

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3 Tadhg Furlong

The 31-year-old tighthead prop continues to be a key figure in the Leinster pack and while he has endured swings in form this season, he is still in his prime years for a front-rower.

With Michael Ala’alatoa heading to France to join Clermont next season, Leinster will be in the market for another tighthead and have been linked to Wallabies star Taniela Tupou.

If the Melbourne Rebels do go under, one wouldn’t write off Tupou joining the men in blue. If not, then Thomas Clarkson will be taking on more responsibility next season.

2 Dan Sheehan

One of the finest hookers in the game, Leinster fans will be thrilled that Dan Sheehan has extended his contract with the IRFU and the province. He will have stiff competition from Ronan Kelleher.

Lee Barron and John McKee will also be vying for minutes behind the Irish pair.

1 Andrew Porter

While the Leinster bosses have a handful of rising stars on the loosehead side of the scrum, Andrew Porter is the clear first choice.

Michael Milne, Ed Byrne and Cian Healy provide further depth for the side.

Potential Leinster team for the 2024/25 season

Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jimmy O’Brien, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Ryan Baird, 5 James Ryan, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter

Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Joe McCarthy, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ciaran Frawley, 23 Jamie Osborne

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