Big Names Return As Munster & Connacht Name Teams For URC Showdown In Thomond Park
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Munster and Connacht have named their teams for this weekend’s hugely anticipated inter-provincial showdown in the United Rugby Championship at Thomond Park, with plenty of big names returning.
With a short six-day turnaround between last Sunday’s win over Scarlets and Saturday night’s clash, 14 changes have been made to the Munster side. Peter O’Mahony captains the southern province on his 150th appearance for the province with last week’s Player of the Match Chris Cloete the only player retained from the Scarlets victory.
British & Irish Lion Tadhg Beirne starts in the second row on his first appearance of the campaign. Mike Haley is named at full-back with Andrew Conway and Simon Zebo starting on either flank.
The half-backs are Craig Casey and Joey Carbery as Rory Scannell and Keith Earls form the centre partnership. Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan pack down in the front row with Jean Kleyn and Beirne in the engine room.
Captain O’Mahony, Cloete and Gavin Coombes start in the back row. Recent Greencore Munster Rugby Academy graduate Jake Flannery is included among the replacements and set to make his first appearance of the season.
Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Jake Flannery, Dan Goggin.
As for Connacht, British & Irish Lion Bundee Aki will make his first appearance of the season tomorrow night. He comes straight into the starting XV, with his inclusion one of five changes from last week’s side that faced the Dragons.
Aki forms a new-look partnership with Sammy Arnold at centre, while John Porch is drafted into the back three alongside fellow winger Mack Hansen and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran. Caolin Blade and Jack Carty are retained, with Carty named as captain for the game.
The front-row of Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham is unchanged, while Niall Murray comes into the second row alongside Ultan Dillane. The final switch sees Conor Oliver start at openside flanker, with Cian Prendergast on the opposite flank and Paul Boyle at number 8.
Connacht: O’Halloran, Porch, Arnold, Aki, Hansen, Carty, Blade, Burke, Heffernan, Bealham, Murray, Dillane, Prendergast, Oliver, Boyle.
Replacements: Delahunt, McGrath, Aungier, Masterson, Papali’i, Marmion, Butler, Daly.