Munster make just one change for showdown with Exeter
Johann van Graan has stuck with 14 of the players who delivered a win last weekend
Munster’s John Ryan comes in to the side for their Champions Cup Pool 2 meeting with Exeter Chiefs on Saturday. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Champions Cup Pool 2: Munster v Exeter Chiefs
Kick off: 5.30pm, Saturday. Venue: Thomond Park. How to follow: The Irish Times liveblog will begin at 5pm. On TV: Live on BT Sport, Virgin Media and Channel 4.
Johann van Graan made just one change to his Munster side from the team that beat Gloucester last week ahead of their do-or-die meeting with Exeter on Saturday.
Munster currently lead Pool 2 on 17 points, with Exeter four behind on 13. Van Graan’s side know a losing bonus point on Saturday would almost certainly be enough to progress to the quarter-finals. Should Exeter win by more than seven points, and Munster don’t score four tries, then the English Premiership side will top the pool. It is highly unlikely 17 points would be enough for Munster to qualify as runners-up.
To that end, John Ryan replacing Stephen Archer at tighthead prop is the only change to the winning formula implemented by the province last week.
Conor Murray makes his 50th Champions Cup appearance just over seven years on from making his competition debut against Northampton Saints.
Mike Haley starts at full-back with Andrew Conway and Keith Earls on the wings.
Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell form the centre partnership with Murray and Joey Carbery in the half-backs.
Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and Ryan pack down in the front row with Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne in the engine room.
Captain Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander make up the Munster back row.
Meanwhile, Chiefs coach Rob Baxter also makes just one change with Harry Williams starting at tight-head after Tomas Francis was forced to withdraw through illness, while Aussie international Greg Holmes is added to the bench.
MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, Tyler Bleyendaal, Dan Goggin.
EXETER CHIEFS: Jack Nowell; Santiago Cordero, Henry Slade, Ollie Devoto, Tom O’Flaherty; Joe Simmonds, Nic White, Alec Hepburn, Jack Yeandle (C), Harry Williams; Dave Dennis, Jonny Hill; Sam Skinner, Don Armand, Matt Kvesic.
Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ben Moon, Greg Holmes, Mitch Lees, Sean Lonsdale, Jack Maunder, Gareth Steenson, Ian Whitten.