Keith Earls moves to fill Munster’s midfield shortfall

URC preview: Simon Zebo on the bench as Stormers descend on Thomond Park

Keith Earls at Munster Rugby Squad Training in  UL, Limerick. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Keith Earls at Munster Rugby Squad Training in UL, Limerick. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

MUNSTER v STORMERS
Venue:
Thomond Park, Limerick
Kick-off: 7.35pm
On TV: Live on RTÉ 2, Premier Sports 2 and URC TV

Reflecting their surfeit of outside backs and current shortage at midfield with Damian de Allende on Springboks duty and Chris Farrell injured, Keith Earls starts at outside centre for the first time since January 2018.

Wingers Calvin Nash and Shane Daly also start, with Simon Zebo on the bench for his 100th league appearance after marking his second Munster debut with the brace of tries which bookended their 42-17 win over the Sharks last Saturday.

The only change to the pack which laid the foundations for Munster’s other four tries sees Keynan Knox start at tight-head. Craig Casey, who buzzed like a bee last week, and Joey Carbery continue their half-back partnership.

Benetton were able to find the edges against the Stormers’ outside-in defence as the latter let slip an 18-7 lead in Treviso last week. But, as Stephen Larkham forewarned in midweek when the Indian summer bade farewell, Munster’s ambitions are liable to be trimmed given the inclement forecast of wind and rain.

Then again, having enjoyed Cape Town-like weather in northern Italy last week, the Stormers won’t be too enamoured with these conditions, and both their line-out and defensive maul struggled against Benetton.

Head coach John Dobson has made five changes. Prop Brok Harris makes his first appearance since 2014, having played over 100 caps for the Dragons in the interim. Lock Adre Smith and scrum-half Stefan Ungerer earn their first starts.

“These are the sorts of games that every player wants to be involved in, so our players will leave it all out there this weekend,” said Dobson. “We will have to be accurate in our execution in all areas against a good Munster side, and we are excited to see what the players coming in can add.”

A calf injury has prevented Mike Adamson from refereeing, with Andrew Brace taking his place.

MUNSTER RUGBY: Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Keith Earls, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Keynan Knox; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Jack O’Donoghue, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, RG Snyman, Jack O’Sullivan, Rowan Osborne, Ben Healy, Simon Zebo.

STORMERS: Warrick Gelant, Sergeal Petersen, Ruhan Nel, Dan du Plessis, Leolin Zas, Manie Libbok, Stefan Ungerer, Brok Harris, Scarra Ntubeni, Neethling Fouche, Adre Smith, Salmaan Moerat (capt), Nama Xaba, Willie Engelbrecht, Evan Roos.
Replacements: Andre-Hugo Venter, Leon Lyons, Sazi Sandi, Ernst van Rhyn, Marcel Theunissen, Godlen Masimla, Tim Swiel, Rikus Pretorius.

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

Betting: 1/40 Munster, 75/1 Draw, 14/1 Stormers. Handicap odds (Stormers +25pts) 10/11 Munster, 22/1 Draw, 10/11 Stormers.

Forecast: Munster to win.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.