No place for Johnny Sexton as Leo Cullen names squad to face Ulster

The out-half is not yet ready to return to the fold

Jonathan Sexton, Leinster, Ireland

Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Johnny Sexton won't be making an appearance for Leinster in their New Year's Eve PRO 12 fixture after head coach Leo Cullen named his squad. 

The Irish international is still recovering from a hamstring injury that has ruled him out for the past few weeks, and while there had been speculation that he would be able to return as early as this week, Cullen has chosen not to take the risk. 

Instead, Ross Byrne slots in at no, 10 again with Joey Carbery also out injured, and he will be joined by Luke McGrath at scrum-half. 

After making wholesale changes to the squad that visited Thomond Park on St. Stephen's Day, Cullen's team has a more familiar look to it this time out, with Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip and Josh van der Flier all being named in the starting side.

Having come off the bench against Munster and impressed with some direct running and good footwork, Noel Reid slots into the centre alongside Garry Ringrose, while Isa Nacewa will captain the team as he moves from the wing to full back.

The team in full is: 

Starting XV:

15. Isa Nacewa CAPTAIN 
14. Adam Byrne 
13. Garry Ringrose 
12. Noel Reid 
11. Rory O’Loughlin 
10. Ross Byrne 
9. Luke McGrath

 
1. Jack McGrath 
2. Sean Cronin 
3. Michael Bent 
4. Devin Toner 
5. Hayden Triggs 
6. Sean O’Brien 
7. Josh van der Flier 
8. Jamie Heaslip 

Replacements:

16. Richardt Strauss 
17. Andrew Porter 
18. Jeremy Loughman 
19. Mick Kearney
20. Jack Conan
21. Jamison Gibson-Park 
22. Tom Daly 
23. Zane Kirchner