Munster and Connacht recall big guns for URC clash

Tadhg Beirne and Bundee Aki will both make first appearances of the campaign

Munster’s Tadhg Beirne during training. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Munster’s Tadhg Beirne during training. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

United Rugby Championship: Munster v Connacht

Kick-off: 7.35pm, Saturday. Venue: Thomond Park. On TV: Live on RTÉ2 and Premier Sport.

Tadhg Beirne makes his first appearance of the season for Munster in tomorrow’s first interpro derby of the URC when they host Connacht at Thomond Park, as will Bundee Aki for the visitors.

By contrast, Conor Murray’s seasonal re-appearance has been held back until next weekend’s game away to the Ospreys.

In light of the six-day turnaround since the eye-catching 43-13 win away to the Scarlets, Beirne is one of 14 changes to the starting line-up, with only last Sunday’s man of the match, Chris Cloete retained.

Peter O’Mahony captains Munster on his 150th appearance for the province with Gavin Coombes also restored to the backrow. Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan pack down in the front row with Jean Kleyn partnering Beirne in the second-row.

Mike Haley is named at full-back with Andrew Conway and Simon Zebo starting on the wings. The half-backs are Craig Casey and Joey Carbery, as was the case in the home wins over the Sharks and Stormers, while Keith Earls’ second outing of the season is once more at outside centre alongside Rory Scannell.

Recent academy graduate Jake Flannery is included among the replacements and so is set to make his first appearance of the season. Fineen Wycherley and Jack O’Donoghue, who have started all three games so far this season, are also among the replacements.

Aki’s inclusion is one of five changes from the Connacht side which last week lost at home to the Dragons as he forms a new-look partnership with Sammy Arnold at centre. John Porch is drafted into the back three, with winger Mack Hansen, full-back Tiernan O’Halloran and half-backs Caolin Blade and Jack Carty all retained. Carty will also captain the side.

The front-row of Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham is unchanged, while Niall Murray comes into the second row alongside Ultan Dillane. The final alteration sees Conor Oliver start at openside flanker, with Cian Prendergast and Paul Boyle at number ‘8’.

Connacht have opted for a 6-2 split on the bench, with back rowers Abraham Papali’i and Jarrad Butler both included as well as Kieran Marmion. Summer arrival Greg McGrath is also in line for his Connacht debut after he was named as replacement loosehead prop.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Jake Flannery, Dan Goggin.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Sammy Arnold, Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty (C), Caolin Blade; Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham; Niall Murray, Ultan Dillane; Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Greg McGrath, Jack Aungier, Eoghan Masterson, Abraham Papali’I, Kieran Marmion, Jarrad Butler, Tom Daly.

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