Simon Zebo returns for Munster’s European opener in Castres
Rassie Erasmus makes five changes with Tyler Bleyendaal moving back to outhalf
Simon Zebo returns to the Munster side and is one of five changes for the Champions Cup opener away to Castres on Sunday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Munster coach Rassie Erasmus has made five changes to his side for Sunday’s Champions Cup opener away to Castres Olympique on Sunday (1pm Irish time).
Simon Zebo returns to the side at fullback to replace JJ Hanrahan and is one of three changes to the backline, with Darren Sweetnam named on the right wing and Rory Scannell restored to midfield joining Champions Cup debutant Chris Farrell.
Keith Earls is retained on the wing after an impressive seasonal debut last Saturday that saw him score two tries in the defeat to Leinster
In the forwards, newcomer secondrow Mark Flanagan makes his first start for the province and his Champions Cup debut.
Although the sides haven’t met since the 2011-12 season, this will be the 13th time these sides meet in Europe and in turn it becomes the most played fixture in the competition’s history.
CASTRES OLYMPIQUE: Julien Dumora; Taylor Paris, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Robert Ebersohn, David Smith; Benjamin Urdapilleta, Rory Kockott; Antoine Tichit, Jody Jenneker, Daniel Kotze; Loic Jacquet, Rodrigo Capo Ortega (capt); Yannick Caballero, Steve Mafi, Maama Vaipulu.
Replacements: Marc-Antoine Rallier, Mihaita Lazar, Damien Tussac, Christophe Samson, Anthony Jelonch, Ludovic Radosavljevic , Florian Vialelle, Armand Batlle.
MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Mark Flanagan, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Liam O’Connor, John Ryan, Robin Copeland, Jack O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Andrew Conway.