Saracens make 12 changes for visit of Munster

John Ryan will make his 150th Munster appearance against Saracens on Saturday

Munster take on reigning European champions Saracens in Saturday’s Champions Cup clash at Allianz Park. Photograph: Inpho

Munster take on reigning European champions Saracens in Saturday’s Champions Cup clash at Allianz Park. Photograph: Inpho

 

Munster head coach Johann van Graan is ready for the “massive challenge” posed by Saracens on their home turf in the European Champions Cup clash on Saturday.

The Irish province claimed an edgy 10-3 win at a blustery Thomond Park last weekend but go to London in search of maximum points in a bid to keep pace with Pool Four leaders Racing 92.

“It’s a massive challenge ahead,” Van Graan told the tournament’s official website. “We are playing against the very best team in Europe currently. They’ve got so much quality within their squad and what they do.

“I think both teams couldn’t really show everything they had on the weekend, because you only had 40 minutes to do what you wanted with ball in hand, just because of the conditions in the second half.

“A lot of times you can’t say ‘it doesn’t get bigger than this’, but in terms of European rugby, going to London on Saturday afternoon against Saracens, they’re currently the best, so looking forward to seeing where we are.”

Saracens, fullback Max Malins and lock Joel Kpoku will make their full European debuts. Mako Vunipola and Jamie George return to the frontrow for Sarries alongside 2019 Rugby World Cup winner Vincent Koch. There are a total of 12 changes to the starting team, with George Kruis, Billy Vunipola, Sean Maitland, Elliot Daly, Richard Wigglesworth and captain Owen Farrell all returning.

Munster have made one change to their side with tighthead prop John Ryan coming into the starting XV.

Mike Haley, Andrew Conway and Keith Earls are named in the back three with Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell continuing their centre partnership.

Conor Murray and JJ Hanrahan are in the halfbacks with James Cronin, Niall Scannell and Ryan packing down in the frontrow. Ryan is making his 150th appearance for the province.

The secondrow pairing of Jean Kleyn and Billy Holland are unchanged along with the backrow of Tadhg Beirne, captain Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander.

Dan Goggin and Tommy O’Donnell have been drafted into the replacements with Goggin set to make his 50th Munster appearance. Nick McCarthy is in line to make his first Champions Cup appearance for Munster.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (Capt), CJ Stander.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Nick McCarthy, Dan Goggin, Tommy O’Donnell.

Saracens: Max Malins; Sean Maitland, Alex Lozowski, Nick Tompkins, Elliot Daly; Owen Farrell (Capt), Richard Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Vincent Koch; Joel Kpoku, George Kruis; Nick Isiekwe, Ben Earl, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Tom Woolstencroft, Richard Barrington, Josh Ibuanokpe, Calum Clark, Jackson Wray, Ben Spencer, Manu Vunipola, Duncan Taylor.

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