Treviso's Ian McKinley set for an emotional return to the RDS

The fly-half played with Leinster before being forced into a premature retirement

BY Daniel Kelly 13:28 Friday 2 September 2016, 13:28 2 Sep 2016

Ian McKinley. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd

Leinster begin their Pro12 campaign on Friday evening against Treviso.

The highlight of the evening for many home fans will be when the visitor's fly-half comes off the bench. Ian McKinley is about to play in the RDS for the first time since May 2011. 

McKinley was a part of Leinster's academy, and played for the first team on six occasions between 2009 and 2011. He was forced to retire, as a result of losing the sight in his left eye after an accident during an AIL game in 2010. 

Ian McKinley in action against Glasgow in 2011. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The UCD student was seen by many as a future star and played in Ireland underage teams with the likes of Ian Madigan, Peter O'Mahony and Rhys Ruddock.

After leaving Leinster, he moved to Italy, and began playing club rugby once more in 2014, with the help of specially made goggles. His form at Leonorso, and then Viadana, helped him earn a contract with Zebre as cover last year during the World Cup and Six Nations, where he played three times.

The goggles he wore were originally banned in Ireland, meaning he could not play at home, but was allowed play away matches in Wales and Scotland. Once that rule was eventually changed by the IRFU, McKinley was snapped up by Treviso.

Although tonight's game will be an emotional affair, McKinley has already played against Leinster. He started the Pro12 game earlier this year in February when Leinster won 27-10 in Italy. The Dubliner played the 80 minutes scoring a penalty and conversion in the loss. 

It's an amazing comeback story, that will come full circle on Friday evening. A last-minute Leinster try to win the game, may not get the reception McKinley will when he finally returns to the RDS pitch.

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