Tony Butler to make first Munster start as Joey Carbery faces wrist surgery

Academy outhalf to face Dragons as Carbery’s ridiculously unfortunate run with injuries goes on

URC: Munster v Dragons, Musgrave Park, Saturday, 5.15 – Live on RTÉ 2, Premier Sports 1

Only the flintiest of hearts would be unmoved by the news that Joey Carbery is set for another period on the sidelines after a scan revealed that he will require wrist surgery. The outhalf, ridiculously unfortunate with injuries, will see a specialist next week.

His misfortune allows academy outhalf Tony Butler to make his first start for Munster while Jack Crowley, rested after his involvement at the World Cup is named among the replacements. Summer signings, centre Alex Nankivell and wing Seán O’Brien, make their first starts for the province.

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree has chosen another Ireland squad member, Craig Casey, while also making three changes up front from last weekend’s drawn game in Benetton, with tighthead prop John Ryan, secondrow Tom Ahern, whose late try earned a share of the spoils, and Alex Kendellen promoted to the run-on team.

The matchday 23 includes seven Academy players: outhalf Butler, prop Kieran Ryan and secondrow Edwin Edogbo all start, while prop Mark Donnelly, Ruadhán Quinn, Brian Gleeson and Ben O’Connor are among the replacements. Quinn and Gleeson played an integral part in the Ireland Under-20s Grand Slam win and march to the World Junior Championship final last season.


O’Connor, who won a Munster Schools Senior Cup with PBC Cork in March and an All-Ireland Hurling U20 title with Cork in the summer, will make his debut off the bench. An exciting prospect he’s featured for UCC in the AIL.

The Dragons are without 20 players, so head coach Dai Flanagan is relying on youth through necessity.

“We need to live in an environment where it’s about the next man up and that’s what this week presents us.

“To build a squad you’ve got to give people experiences. Ideally you do it around the best group of players you have available, but sometimes your back is against the wall, you’ve got to come out swinging. That’s the opportunity we have this week.”

Anything other than a bonus-point victory for Munster would be a huge surprise.

MUNSTER: S Daly; S O’Brien, A Nankivell, R Scannell, C Nash; T Butler, C Casey; K Ryan, D Barron, J Ryan; E Edogbo, T Ahern; J O’Donoghue (capt), A Kendellen, G Coombes.

Replacements: S Buckley, M Donnelly, S Archer, R Quinn, B Gleeson, P Patterson, J Crowley, B O’Connor.

DRAGONS: A O’Brien; C Baldwin, S Hughes (capt), J Dixon, A Hewitt; W Reed, R Williams; R Jones, B Roberts, L Yendle; J Davies, G Nott; R Woodman, J Benjamin, T Basham.

Replacements: B Coghlan, A Seiuli, N Evans, B Langton-Cryer, G Young, D Blacker, A Owen, E Rosser.

Referee: Sam Grove White (Scotland).

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer