Inexperienced Munster facing formidable assignment in trip to Scarlets

Johann Van Graan makes 11 changes for the trip to Llanelli to face Scarlets

Jack O’Donoghue switches from openside to blindside and captains a young Munster side against Scarlets. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Jack O’Donoghue switches from openside to blindside and captains a young Munster side against Scarlets. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Scarlets v Munster, Parc y Scarlets, Sunday, 2pm - Live RTÉ 2, S4C, Premier Sports 1

Johann van Graan and the Munster think tank have previously been accused of being too conservative with their selections but they have continued their policy of rotation for this difficult-looking assignment.

In all they make 11 changes from the side which powered their way to the comeback win over the Stormers. Jack O’Donoghue, outstanding last week, switches from openside to blindside and captains a young side in which Calvin Nash, Shane Daly and Fineen Wycherley are also retained.

Matt Gallagher, Liam Coombes, Ben Healy and Neil Cronin make their first appearances of the season in the backline, as do Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Stephen Archer, Thomas Ahern, Chris Cloete and Jack O’Sullivan in the pack.

Nor is there some particularly heavyweight artillery in reserve, as Kevin O’Byrne, Josh Wycherley, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly and the Academy duo of Alex Kendellen and Paddy Patterson are all in line to make their seasonal debuts off the bench.

Whereas Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray remain under wraps following their Lions tour exertions, by contrast Ken Owens, Gareth Davies and Wyn Jones return for the home side.

Davies is the lone change in the back division from last week’s emphatic win over the Lions while up front, whereas Jones is on the bench, Owens packs down alongside the recalled Samson Lee in an all-international front-row.

There is a debut for on-loan Lloyd Ashley in the second row, while Aaron Shingler has recovered from his back issue to line up alongside him at lock. The back row of Blade Thomson, Dan Davis and Sione Kalamafoni, remains the same for the third successive week.

Munster have won their last 14 fixtures against Welsh regions in all tournaments since the Scarlets beat them here in March 2019 but at face value they will be doing well to extend that run.

SCARLETS: Johnny McNicholl; Tom Rogers, Jonathan Davies (capt), Scott Williams, Steff Evans; Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Samson Lee; Lloyd Ashley, Aaron Shingler; Blade Thomson, Dan Davis, Sione Kalamafoni.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Will Griff John, Morgan Jones, Shaun Evans, Kieran Hardy, Dan Jones, Johnny Williams.

MUNSTER: Matt Gallagher; Calvin Nash, Liam Coombes, Dan Goggin, Shane Daly; Ben Healy, Neil Cronin; Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Stephen Archer; Thomas Ahern, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (capt), Chris Cloete, Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, RG Snyman, Alex Kendellen, Paddy Patterson, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly.

Referee: Ben Blain (SRU)

Forecast: Scarlets to win.

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