Munster make eight changes for top of the table Ospreys clash
Donncha O’Callaghan and James Coughlan in matchday squad after Ireland release
Felix Jones returns at fullback for Munster’s top of the table clash with Ospreys at Thomond Park on Saturday night. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Munster coach Rob Penney has made eight changes to the side that beat Glasgow last week for Saturday night’s top of the table Pro 12 clash meeting against Ospreys at Thomond Park (7.15pm).
Munster have been boosted by the return of Donncha O’Callaghan and James Coughlan from international camp, with O’Callaghan named in the secondrow and Coughlan among the replacements.
Dave O’Callaghan takes over from Peter O’Mahony at blindside with Varley talking on the captaincy.
Ulster coach Mark Anscombe has also made eight personnel changes and three positional switches to the team that recorded a bonus point win over Cardiff last Friday night for Saturday’s game against the Scarlets at Parc Y Scarlets (kick-off 6.30pm.
Michael Allen takes over from Tommy Bowe on the left wing, while Darren Cave and Chris Farrell make up a new midfield pairing. Ruan Pienaar shifts to outhalf, with Paul Marshall starting at scrumhalf.
In the backrow, Wilson shifts to blindside to allow for the return of Nick Williams at number eight.
Connacht have made four changes from the side that lost to Leinster at the RDS last weekend for Saturday’s visit of Glasgow to the Sportsground (5.0pm).
There’s a welcome return for Dave McSharry for his first start in 10 months and he is named at inside centre. The 23-year-old marked his return from injury last month by coming on as a replacement in the 33-6 Heineken Cup victory over Zebre.
Joining McSharry in the centre is 20-year-old Darragh Leader who made his first senior appearance away to Ospreys last season.
Up front, Jason Harris-Wright will start as hooker in his 25th appearance for the province.
The replacements bench includes veteran tighthead Nathan White who returns after a three-week absence due to injury. Mick Kearney is also included in the matchday squad and could earn his first appearance of the season.
MUNSTER (v Ospreys, Saturday, Thomond Park, 7.15pm) : F Jones; J Murphy, C Laulala, I Dineen, R O’Mahony; I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, D Varley (capt), BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan, Dave Foley; Dave O’Callaghan, S Dougall, CJ Stander. Replacements: D Casey, J Cronin, J Ryan, B Holland, J Coughlan, C Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan, C Bohane.
OSPREYS: R Fussell; A Natoga, J Spratt (capt), A Bishop, B John; M Morgan, T Tibaldi; M Thomas, S Baldwin, J Rees; L Peers, J King; J Bearman, S Lewis, M Allen. Replacements: M Dwyer, N Smith, D Suter, R Hughes, A Ellis, T Habberfield, S Davies, H Dirksen.
SCARLETS (v Ulster, Saturday, Parc y Scarlets, 6.30pm): G Owen; N Reynolds, G Maule, A Warren, J Williams; S Shingler, G Davies; P John (capt), K Myhill, S Lee; J Ball, G Earle; A Shingler, J Turnbull, S Timani. Replacements: D Harris, R Evans, J Adriaanse, J Synman, J Barclay, A Davies, A Thomas, C Knight.
ULSTER: J Payne (capt); A Trimble, D Cave, C Farrell, M Allen; R Pienaar, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring, J Afoa; L Stevenson, N McComb; R Diack, R Wilson, N Williams. Replacements: N Annett, K McCall, R Lutton, M McComish, S Doyle, J McKinney, R Andrew, D McIlwaine.
CONNACHT (v Glasgow, Sportsground, Saturday, 5.0pm): G Duffy; F Carr, D Leader, D McSharry, M Healy; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, R Ah You; M Swift (capt), C Clarke; M Fifita, J Heenan, G Naoupu. Replacements: D Heffernan, JP Cooney, N White, A Muldowney, M Kearney, P O’Donohoe, C Ronaldson, T O’Halloran.