Munster & Leinster Welcome Back Key Players As They Name Champions Cup Sides
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Conor Murray, Donnacha Ryan and Francis Saili have all come through this week’s preparations in time to be included in Munster’s team to take on Leicester Tigers on Saturday in Thomond Park. (Kick-off 7.45pm)
Head Coach Anthony Foley has made nine changes to the side that started against Newport Gwent Dragons last Sunday.
In the front row James Cronin and BJ Botha return to scrum down on either side of hooker Niall Scannellwho makes his first European appearance this weekend. The returning Ryan joins Dave Foley in the second row while Robin Copeland and CJ Stander are named alongside Dave O’Callaghan in the back row.
Named at blindside, this will be Copeland’s first Champions Cup start for the province, while Stander returns to captain the side from number 8. A changed half-back pairing sees Conor Murray and Ian Keatley renew their partnership after Murray successfully rehabbed a bruised bone he sustained during the round one encounter against Treviso.
The further changes to the backline see Saili, Keith Earls and Andrew Conway all named. Saili starts with Denis Hurley in midfield while Simon Zebo is joined by Keith Earls and Andrew Conway in the back three.
Mike Sherry is included in the replacements following on from a knee injury he sustained in the opening round against Treviso while Tyler Bleyendaal is in line to make his European debut if sprung from the bench.
Munster: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, BJ Botha; Dave Foley, Donnacha Ryan; Robin Copeland, Dave O’Callaghan, CJ Stander
Replacements: Mike Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Mark Chisholm, Jack O’Donoghue, Tomás O’Leary, Tyler Bleyendaal, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
Leinster head Coach Leo Cullen has made six changes to the side to take on Toulon in a crucial Pool 5 clash in the Champions Cup on Sunday (Kick off 3.15pm, live on RTÉ Radio 1).
With last weekend’s game against the Glasgow Warriors falling victim to the elements Desmond, the starting XV has a number of changes to the team that played against Ulster in the RDS two weeks ago.
In the backs Fergus McFadden, Rob Kearney and Isaac Boss come in while in the pack it’s a completely new front row. Kearney starts at full-back in only his second game this season for the province since starting against Scarlets in the Guinness PRO12 in early November.
Fergus McFadden and captain Isa Nacewa have scored 81 points between them this season including four tries and start on the right and left wing respectively. Luke Fitzgerald and Ben Te’o start in the centre with Isaac Boss partnering Johnny Sexton in the half backs.
Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier and Jamie Heaslip retain their places in the back row while the second row is also unchanged from the Ulster game with Devin Toner partnering Mike McCarthy. The front row sees a new combination of Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross line up against the reigning European champions.
Ten of the starting XV also started in last season’s agonising 25-20 semi-final extra time loss to Toulon in Marseille.
Leinster: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Luke Fitzgerald, Isa Nacewa (capt); Johnny Sexton, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross; Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Tom Denton, Jordi Murphy, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Dave Kearney.