URC: Connacht vs Munster, the Sportsground, Friday October 7th, kick-off 7.35pm, live on TG4.
Joey Carbery starts at fullback for the first time since his Leinster days in Friday night’s interpro clash between Connacht and Munster in Galway. Ireland’s back-up outhalf makes his first start of the new campaign at the Sportsground but at a position he last played when deputising for Johnny Sexton in the blue of Leinster.
Conor Murray makes his first start of the season at scrumhalf with Ben Healy paired alongside him in the halfbacks. Gavin Coombes also returns for his first appearance of the season. Jean Kleyn comes in to the secondrow in place of Fineen Wycherley as Munster make four total changes to the starting XV that beat Zebre last week.
Coombes’ return means that Ruadhan Quinn, who broke the record for youngest player to appear in a competitive match for Munster, drops out of the 23, but young lock Edwin Edogbo keeps his place on the bench.
Connacht receive a major boost as they welcome back Jack Carty for the first time this season, the Ireland international returning to the captaincy as well. His return shifts David Hawkshaw from 10 to 12 where he covers for the suspended Bundee Aki, while Conor Fitzgerald adds to the list of outhalves starting at fullback.
Bryon Ralston starts at 13 alongside Hawkshaw, meaning Tom Farrell drops out of the 23. Tom Daly, who started last weekend’s defeat to the Bulls at 12, is on the bench.
Up front, Gavin Thornbury returns for his first start in the secondrow since the season opener away to Ulster, replacing Leva Fifita alongside Oisín Dowling. Josh Murphy drops to the bench with Shamus Hurley-Langton comes in at blindside flanker.
For the second consecutive week, Connacht have opted for a 6-2 split among the replacements with Paul Boyle in the 23 shirt.
Friday night marks the first time Connacht will play on the newly laid 4G, all-weather pitch at the Sportsground. Both sides are in desperate need of a win, Connacht having lost all of their opening three games while Munster have only a win over Zebre to show for their initial efforts.
Connacht: Conor Fitzgerald; John Porch, Byron Ralston, David Hawkshaw, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty (capt), Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham; Gavin Thornbury, Oisín Dowling; Shamus Hurley-Langton, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler.
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Peter Dooley, Jack Aungier, Niall Murray, Josh Murphy, Colm Reilly, Tom Daly, Paul Boyle.
Munster: Joey Carbery; Conor Phillips, Malakai Fekitoa, Dan Goggin, Patrick Campbell; Ben Healy, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Keynan Knox; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Jack O’Donoghue, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Scott Buckley, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Edwin Edogbo, Jack O’Sullivan, Craig Casey, Rory Scannell, Fionn Gibbons.
Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)