United Rugby Championship: Rhys Ruddock to captain Leinster on his 200th appearance

David Skippers

There are two games taking place on Friday in the United Rugby Championship as Zebre face the Bulls before Leinster host the Lions.

Zebre Parma v Bulls

Zebre Parma head coach Emiliano Bergamaschi has made five changes, including a positional switch, to his starting line-up for their encounter against the Bulls at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Friday.

In the backline, Jacopo Trulla comes in on the right wing at the expense of Pierre Bruno, who was named to start in that position against Cardiff last weekend before that match was postponed due to Storm Eunice. Meanwhile, Timothy O’Malley replaces Enrico Lucchin at inside centre and Marcello Violi comes in for Guglielmo Palazzani at scrum-half.

There are two changes to the forwards with Maxime Mbandà added on the blindside flank where he takes over from Giovanni Licata, who replaces Renato Giammarioli at number eight, while Potu Junior Leavasa starts at lock in place of David Sisi.

Meanwhile, the Bulls have made three alterations to their run-on side for this encounter.

A forced change following the suspension of experienced pivot, Morné Steyn, who will miss the next three matches for the men from Pretoria, sees the reliable Chris Smith earning a starting berth in the number 10 jersey.

He will form a half-back pairing with Embrose Papier, who is promoted from the replacements bench where he started the side’s previous match against the Lions a fortnight ago.

The versatile Kurt-Lee Arendse makes his way back into the starting XV, where he will start at full-back, forming a formidable back three, alongside the experienced Cornal Hendricks and the explosive Madosh Tambwe, who will be the starting wings.

Continuity among the forwards sees no changes being made in the starting pack.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Erich Cronjé, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Asaeli Tuivuaka, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Giovanni Licata, 5 Liam Mitchell, 4 David Sisi (c), 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio
16 Luca Bigi, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Ion Neculai, 19 Andrea Zambonin, 20 Taina Fox-Matamua, 21 Manfredi Albanese, 22 Timothy O’Malley, 23 Jacopo Trulla

Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marcell Coetzee (c), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp
16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Robert Hunt, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Ruan Mostert, 23 Canan Moodie

Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Kick-off: 18:30 (local) (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Federico Boraso (FIR), Dario Merli (FIR)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (FIR)

Leinster v Lions

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has named his team to face the Lions in their United Rugby Championship clash on Friday.

Veteran back-row Rhys Ruddock will captain the side from number eight on the occasion of his 200th Leinster appearance. Ruddock made his debut for the province against Dragons in December 2009 and has scored 12 tries. In addition, he has also earned 27 Ireland caps.

Joining him in the back-row is the returning Dan Leavy, making his first appearance since November, and Josh Murphy.

Ed Byrne is the one change to the front-row from last week’s win over Ospreys, linking up with James Tracy and Michael Ala’alatoa while Devin Toner partners Joe McCarthy in the second-row.

Nick McCarthy and Ross Byrne combine in the half-backs with the same midfield duo of Harry Byrne and Jamie Osborne outside them. Academy player Max O’Reilly comes into the number 15 shirt in place of Jimmy O’Brien who has now linked up with the international squad. He’s supported in defence by Dave Kearney and Tommy O’Brien.

Among the replacements Cullen can call upon are Seán Cronin, Peter Dooley, Thomas Clarkson, Jack Dunne, Max Deegan, Luke McGrath, Adam Byrne and Scott Penny.

Meanwhile, Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen is set to unleash the Junior Springbok duo of Ruan Venter and Quan Horn when his side takes on Leinster at the RDS Arena.

The two, who have been impressive in junior and senior provincial competitions in the last year, will line up in a matchday 23 which sees centre Wandisile Simelane and Jordan Hendrikse make their return to the starting XV.

“We’re excited to see how Ruan and Quan go tomorrow. It’s an extended opportunity for them to immerse themselves into our system and ultimately express their talent on the big stage,” said Van Rooyen.

Van Rooyen further went on to comment on the privilege of touring as a team but at the same focusing on the job at hand come the weekend.

“Touring is always a great opportunity for the guys to strengthen bonds and build on our culture, which bodes well for team culture and ultimately on-field synergy,” he said.

Elsewhere, Lunga Ncube and Nico Steyn are in line to make their competition debuts.

The teams:

Leinster15 Max O’Reilly, 14 Tommy O’Brien, 13 Jamie Osborne, 12 Harry Byrne, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Nick McCarthy, 8 Rhys Ruddock (c), 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Joe McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 James Tracy, 1 Ed Byrne
16 Seán Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Thomas Clarkson, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Adam Byrne, 23 Scott Penny

Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Ruben Schoeman, 4 PJ Steenkamp, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole
Replacements: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Morgan Naude, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Lunga Ncube, 20 Sibusiso Sangweni, 21 Nico Steyn, 22 Manuel Rass, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel

Venue: RDS Arena
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Peter Martin (IRFU), Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)
TMO: Colin Stanley (IRFU)

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