Munster and Leinster rest their Lions for dead rubbers

None of the four Munster players involved in last weekend’s fire pit incident are involved

 Conor Murray and Tadhg Beirne have been excused for Munster’s final game of the season. File photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Conor Murray and Tadhg Beirne have been excused for Munster’s final game of the season. File photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Although Stephen Larkham had strongly intimated that Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray would be granted the game time they were looking for away to Zebre on Friday evening in Parma (6pm Irish time, live on eir Sport), in light of that Rainbow Cup match becoming a dead rubber their two Lions have been excused for Munster’s final game of the season.

Similarly, following Andrew Porter’s misfortune last weekend, Leinster have also rested their three remaining Lions, Tadhg Furlong, Jack Conan and Robbie Henshaw for their game against the Dragons (kick-off 8.15pm, live on eirSport) at the RDS.

With Harry Byrne also returning from injury and back on the bench as understudy to his brother Ross, likewise Johnny Sexton has been rested, even though the quartet all trained fully this week.

As expected, none of the four Munster players involved in last weekend’s fire pit incident, Damian de Allende, RG Snyman, Mike Haley and CJ Stander, are involved, meaning Stander has played his last game for the province.

There are seven changes to the team that secured a bonus-point win over Cardiff Blues last time out. Skibbereen cousins Liam and Gavin Coombes start together for the third time with Matt Gallagher, Chris Farrell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan and captain Peter O’Mahony also returning to the side.

Academy duo Thomas Ahern and Jake Flannery are among the replacements alongside Billy Holland and Nick McCarthy, who are set to make their final Munster appearances. McCarthy is returning to Leinster while Holland will play in his 247th and final game for Munster.

Head coach Johann van Graan said: “We’re looking forward to our final game of the season. Ideally, we would love to still be in with a chance to play for a final but it’s not to be and while guys were disappointed, we still have a competitive game to play.

Performance

“No different to any opportunity we get, the lads will want to play for each other and put in a performance and finish the season out on a high.

“We’ve again mixed the side with a good balance of experienced and younger players so it’s another 80 minutes of rugby, and with some players competing for Irish selection also there are plenty of motivating factors.

“For CJ and Mike it was just a case of running out of time and it’s important they and their injuries take the time to heal following last weekend’s accident.”

Leo Cullen makes six changes from the starting XV for last weekend’s defeat by Glasgow, with Jordan Larmour, the fit again Jamison Gibson-Park, Cian Healy, Ross Molony, Scott Fardy and Scott Penny all returning to the side.

This match will mark farewell appearances for the retiring Fardy and Michael Bent, while in addition to Gibson-Park and the younger Byrne, Vakh Abdaladze will make his first appearance of the season if introduced off the bench and in doing so will become the 60th player used by Cullen this season.

As part of a series of test events sanctioned by the Government, 1,200 supporters will be in attendance at the game for the first time since Leinster beat Glasgow at the RDS in February 2020.

Munster: Matt Gallagher; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Peter O’Mahony (Capt), Jack O’Donoghue, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Roman Salanoa, Thomas Ahern, Billy Holland, Nick McCarthy, Jake Flannery, Chris Cloete.

Leinster: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose (Capt), Rory O’Loughlin, Jimmy O’Brien; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Bent; Ryan Baird, James Ryan; Scott Fardy, Scott Penny, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: James Tracy, Michael Milne, Vakh Abdaladze, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne, Cian Kelleher.

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