Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath start for Leinster

Date published: January 24 2019

There’s three PRO14 fixtures scheduled on Friday as Glasgow Warriors, Leinster and Ulster host Ospreys, Scarlets and Benetton respectively.

Glasgow Warriors vs Ospreys

Glasgow Warriors have named an experienced matchday squad for this fixture at Scotstoun.

Deputising for head coach Dave Rennie, who is in New Zealand at a family wedding, assistant coach Kenny Murray has been boosted by the return of 10 players from Scotland’s Six Nations squad.

Rob Harley, Matt Smith and Adam Ashe both return from camp to start in the back-row, Harley captaining the side from the blindside flank.

Tim Swinson has also been released to play, partnering Scott Cummings in the engine room behind a front-row of Alex Allan, Kevin Bryce and Siua Halanukonuka.

Lee Jones starts on one wing with Niko Matawalu on the opposite side, the Fijian scored a hat-trick off the bench in the reverse fixture at the Liberty Stadium. Ruaridh Jackson starts at full-back.

Nick Grigg was named Man of the Match in Swansea and he starts alongside Stafford McDowall in midfield.

Nick Frisby and Brandon Thomson are the half-backs.

On the bench, Thomas Gordon is in line to make his Warriors debut after coming through the Scottish Rugby Academy and impressing for Currie Chieftains in the Tennent’s Premiership this season.

Scottish Rugby Academy hooker Robbie Smith could also play his first game for the club.

Meanwhile, Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke has made eight changes, including two positional switches, to his starting line-up which lost to Pau in the Challenge Cup last weekend.

In the back-line, there are three changes with Hanno Dirksen replacing Keelan Giles on the right wing while Cory Allen comes in at inside centre in place of Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler and Tom Habberfield is preferred to Harri Morgan at scrum-half.

Up front, James King moves from number eight to lock where he takes over from Will Griffiths and Rob McCusker starts at the base of the scrum after wearing the number six jersey against Pau. Olly Cracknell replaces McCusker on the blindside flank.

In the front-row, Tom Botha and Scott Baldwin take over from Gheorghe Gajion and Sam Parry at tighthead prop and hooker respectively. Fly-half Sam Davies will captain the side.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Matt Smith, 6 Rob Harley (c), 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 Kevin Bryce, 1 Alex Allan
Replacements:
16 Robbie Smith, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Tevita Tameilau, 20 Thomas Gordon, 21 Robbie Nairn, 22 Alex Dunbar, 23 Rory Hughes

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Cory Allen, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Sam Davies (c), 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 Sam Cross, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 James King, 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Gareth Thomas
Replacements:
16 Scott Otten, 17 Rowan Jenkins, 18 Gheorghe Gajion, 19 Will Griffiths, 20 Will Jones, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Luke Price, 23 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler

Venue: Scotstoun
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Dave Sutherland (Scotland), Rob Sullivan (Ireland)
TMO: Charles Samson (Scotland)

Leinster vs Scarlets

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has named seven Academy players in his 23 but has been able to recall a number of senior players from injury and suspension as well as handing a potential debut off the bench to Academy forward Jack Dunne.

Rob Kearney is back from injury to take his place as captain at full-back with Barry Daly on the right wing and James Lowe back from suspension on the left.

In the centre Academy back Conor O’Brien and Rory O’Loughlin are again named together having also started against Connacht in the Christmas interpro.

Hugh O’Sullivan makes his first start for Leinster having made his European debut off the bench only last weekend against Wasps. O’Sullivan will have Ciarán Frawley outside him in the number 10 jersey.

In the pack Jack McGrath, James Tracy and Michael Bent are the front-row selected by Cullen with Ross Molony and Mick Kearney in the engine room.

The back-row consists of Max Deegan, Scott Penny and Caelan Doris.

Meanwhile, Steff Hughes will captain the Scarlets this week at the RDS Arena.

As 12 internationals take their place in the Welsh squad for the Six Nations this month, it’s an important time for the younger squad members to step up for the Scarlets.

Scarlets’ squad includes a few tweaks from last week’s game. The internationals are making room for players such as Ioan Nicholas at 14 while Kieran Hardy is at scrum-half, joining Dan Jones at 10 following an accomplished performance against Racing 92.

Josh Macleod continues at number eight with youngster Dan Jones at his side. One international who is available for Scarlets is Jake Ball who has an opportunity to gain some valuable game time before the start of the Six Nations.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney (c), 14 Barry Daly, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Conor O’Brien, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ciarán Frawley, 9 Hugh O’Sullivan, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Scott Penny, 6 Max Deegan, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Vakh Abdaladze, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Oisín Dowling, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Jimmy O’Brien

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Ioan Nicholas, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Steff Hughes (c), 11 Paul Asquith, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Josh Macleod, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Tom Price, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Dafydd Hughes, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Ed Kennedy, 21 Jon Evans, 22 Morgan Williams, 23 Tom Prydie

Venue: RDS Arena
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Vincenzo Schipani (Italy)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Ulster vs Benetton

There are two personnel changes to the Ulster backline that played in last Saturday’s 14-13 comeback win against Leicester Tigers in the Champions Cup, as academy players Michael Lowry and James Hume are installed at full-back and outside centre respectively.

Another academy player, Robert Baloucoune, who scored the match-winning try at Welford Road, is again selected on the right wing.

Dave Shanahan and Billy Burns are retained in the half-back positions, with Stuart McCloskey lining out at inside centre and Louis Ludik named on the left wing.

Up front, Alan O’Connor takes over the captaincy from Rory Best and he will partner Kieran Treadwell in the second-row.

Andy Warwick and Rob Herring join Marty Moore in the front-row, while there are three new faces in the back-row as Ian Nagle, Nick Timoney and Greg Jones have earned call-ups.

Hooker John Andrew will win his 50th provincial cap if he’s called upon from the bench, with Wiehahn Herbst, Tom O’Toole, Matthew Dalton, Clive Ross, Jonny Stewart, Darren Cave and Rob Lyttle also included in the matchday 23.

Meanwhile, Luca Sperandio will line up at full-back for Benetton, with Ratuva Tavuyara and Monty Ioane completing the back three.

At centre, Tommaso Iannone and Marco Zanon combine, while Dewaldt Duvenage is at scrum-half and captain Ian McKinley takes his place outside the South African.

The front-row consists of Nicola Quaglio, Hame Faiva and Marco Riccioni with Irné Herbst and Federico Ruzza at lock.

Finally, the back-row sees Marco Lazzaroni, Michele Lamaro and Toa Halafihi completing the XV chosen by head coach Kieran Crowley.

It is a huge game as Ulster, who are also in Conference B, currently reside two points behind Benetton in fifth place in the competition.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Dave Shanahan, 8 Greg Jones, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Ian Nagle, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor (c), 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andy Warwick
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Matthew Dalton, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Jonny Stewart, 22 Darren Cave, 23 Rob Lyttle

Benetton: 15 Luca Sperandio, 14 Ratuva Tavuyara, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Ian McKinley (c), 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Nicola Quaglio
Replacements: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Marco Barbini, 22 Edoardo Gori, 23 Ignacio Brex

Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Rhys Jones (Wales)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)