O’Mahony, Carbery and Zebo among Munster changes for Exeter clash

Props Josh Wycherely and John Ryan come into frontrow for Thomond Park clash

Munster have been strengthened by the return of captain Peter O'Mahony, Joey Carbery and Simon Zebo for Saturday's Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 second leg clash against Exeter Chiefs at Thomond Park (3pm).

Johann van Graan makes five changes in all as he also rotates the Munster props, with Josh Wycherely and John Ryan coming into the frontrow. Jeremy Loughman and Stephen Archer move to the bench. Diarmuid Barron has also been named on the bench after recovering from the stomach bug which forced his late withdrawal from the first leg, as do Ben Healy and Alex Kendellen after his completion of the return to play protocols in what is again a 6-2 split.

O’Mahony (hamstring), Carbery (leg/knee) and Zebo (illness) were all ruled out of last Saturday’s first leg, which Exeter won 13-8 to set up this intriguing second leg. O’Mahony’s return at blindside flanker means last week’s captain, Jack O’Donoghue, moves to number eight in the continuing absence of Gavin Coombes.

Meanwhile Exeter will be without their England and Lions number eight Sam Simmonds, who was the 2019/20 European Player of the Year, and is the current leading try scorer in the 2021/22 Champions Cup.

Simmonds’s absence from the starting XV is Rob Baxter’s only change.

Jannes Kirsten comes into the starting side at openside flanker with Jacques Vermeulen moving to number eight. Billy Keast, Santiago Grondona and Tom Gilbert-Hendrickson are restored to the bench.

MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Simon Zebo; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Josh Wycherley, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Peter O'Mahony (capt), John Hodnett, Jack O'Donoghue.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Jason Jenkins, Thomas Ahern, Craig Casey, Ben Healy, Alex Kendellen.

EXETER: Stuart Hogg; Olly Woodburn, Henry Slade, Ian Whitten, Tom O'Flaherty; Joe Simmonds, Sam Maunder; Alec Hepburn, Jack Yeandle (capt), Harry Williams; Jonny Gray, Sam Skinner; Dave Ewers, Jannes Kirsten, Jacques Vermeulen.

Replacements: Jack Innard, Billy Keast, Patrick Schickerling, Richard Capstick, Santiago Grondona, Jack Maunder, Tom Gilbert-Hendrickson, Josh Hodge.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France).