RG Snyman returns to Munster side for away date against Scarlets

Mike Haley also returns from injury to start at fullback in Wales

Munster’s failure to win a league match away from home all season is not something they are dwelling on, according to forwards coach Andi Kyriacou as they head to Llanelli this Friday evening searching for their first URC victory on the road since they defeated the Stormers in the final back in May.

Kyriacou, whose side have won four, lost four and drawn one of their nine URC games, need to up their game heading into the second half of the campaign if they are to defend their crown.

“We just concentrate on our performance from week-to-week to get better,” said Kyriacou. “We know there has been a lot of room for improvement in certain areas and for 60 minutes in a lot of the games we have been the better team and put in some really good performances, but we have not quite finished things off. That’s something we are looking at constantly and we are hopeful that we will see the hard work bear fruit over the coming months.

“Those games pre-Six Nations, things were quite tight in those games. We looked at those performances in that week off and just had a look at what we can do better. That week off has been good for all of us and then the Crusaders game and the Harlequins game next week will give us a chance to plug those holes in this period in the hope of keeping the momentum going in terms of what we are trying to do on the field.”


Kyriacou said that RG Snyman’s long-awaited return is perfectly timed with the double World Cup winner coming in when they have a host of players away on Six Nations duty. The Springbok will see his first action for Munster since the URC win over the Stormers in Cape Town back in May and while they 29-year old is heading to arch rivals Leinster in the summer, Kyriacou said it’s great to have him back.

“It is really nice, the timing of it for us that he is coming in this period and we are looking forward to having someone like that, 6′9″ and some 130kg, with that calibre back in that position and what he offers both on and off the field. He’ll complement and support younger lads while they try and play in the way they are training.

“He is going to be a big player for us over the next few months before he wraps things up for us,” said Kyriacou.

Munster have not won away from home in the league since that final win over the Stormers and while Scarlets have only managed two wins in nine URC games this season, Kyriacou said they are taking nothing for granted against a side who scored 42 points against them in Cork last season, even if they ended losing the game 49-42.

“We have massive respect for them in terms of what they did against us last season. They are a team who are deadly with the unstructured side of the game. They have got some good ball carriers, a lot of offload threats and they keep the ball alive as well.

“They are good on the edges in terms of the way they swing ball to the edges of the field and they are tough lads, they are proud lads of their club and the area they come from and we respect that,” added Kyriacou.

Aside from the return of Snyman, Mike Haley is also back for his first action of the season and slots back in his usual full-back spot. Munster are also boosted by the return of Conor Murray, Oli Jager and Jeremy Loughman from Irish camp and all three have been handed starting roles.

Hooker Niall Scannell and lock Tom Ahern also return from injury as Munster head to Llanelli with a fairly formidable side, with Joey Carbery partnering Murray at half-back and Antoine Frisch and Alex Nankivell continuing their solid centre partnership.

Promising academy flanker Ruadhán Quinn starts in a back row where Alex Kendellen will skipper the side for the first time in the league, having led them out in the recent friendly with the Crusaders at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Two more academy players, scrumhalf Ethan Coughlan and wing Shay McCarthy, are included on the bench having impressed when they started against the Crusaders.

Munster: M Haley; S O’Brien, A Frisch, A Nankivell; S Daly; J Carbery, C Murray; J Loughman, N Scannell, O Jager; T Ahern, RG Snyman; R Quinn, A Kendellen (c), G Coombes. Replacements: E Clarke, J Wycherley, J Ryan, F Wycherley, J O’Sullivan, E Coughlan, R Scannell, S McCarthy.

Scarlets: J McNicholl; T Lewis, J Roberts, E James, I Nicholas; D Jones, A Hughes; K Mathias, E Swart, H O’Connor; A Craig, S Lousi (c); J Taylor, D Davis, V Fifita. Replacements: H Thomas, W Jones, S Wainwright, J Price, T Leatherbarrow, E Jones, C Titcombe, S Evans.

Referee: Ian Kenny (Scotland).

Verdict: Munster