Depleted Munster expect grilling from Cardiff
Anthony Foley uses all resources so his side can withstand the heat in the Arms Park
Former Ireland under-20 centre Rory Scannell starts at number 12 for Munster. Photograph: Inpho.
Cardiff Blues v Munster
Arms Park, 5.15pm
Sky Sports 2
Glancing ahead to the November internationals plenty can be inferred from this Munster line-up. Ian Keatley’s absence improves his chance of benching against the Springboks in seven days’ time or starting against Georgia on November 16th. Or both.
Same goes for Dave Foley and Tommy O’Donnell. All three have earned Ireland opportunities due to recent Munster form.
Clearly both are in need of game time with Archer or Connacht’s Rodney Ah You expected to feature against South Africa.
Presuming Mike Ross trains next week, the reserve will only be needed for 30 minutes here and there.
Andrew Conway also returns from Carton House having been a late promotion to national camp after an determined, workmanlike performance against Saracens. Felix Jones was not released as Rob Kearney struggles to regain fitness.
Of course none of this matters to Anthony Foley. Johne Murphy goes to fullback, JJ Hanrahan is the outhalf and Donncha O’Callaghan assumes the leadership role with Paul O’Connell and Peter O’Mahony in Maynooth.
That’s where the bulk of yardage will come from. Copeland was squeezed out of the European starting XV against Saracens so expect a bullish approach against the club that gave him his wings.
Former Ireland under-20s centre Rory Scannell gets an opportunity in the troublesome 12 jersey but don’t expect anything overly expansive from the travellers, even with Conway and Gerhard van den Heever on the wings.
Foley has consistently preached the need for Munster to play to their strengths and Cardiff director of rugby Mark Hammett has an idea what will be hurled at the Blues defence.
“Munster are a challenging side who have a strong pick and go game, run hard and direct and are strong technically. We’ve got to be right on the money from the start because we will be tested all over the field.”
Still, Munster look stronger.
CARDIFF BLUES: R Patchell; R Smith, A Thomas, G Evans, L Amorosino; G Davies, L Williams; S Hobbs, M Rees (capt), A Jones; J Hoeata, F Paulo; J Turnbull, J Navidi, M Vosawai. Replacements: K Dacey, T Davies, T Filise, M Cook, E Jenkins, L Jones, G Smith, D Fish.
MUNSTER: J Murphy; A Conway, A Smith, R Scannell, G van den Heever; JJ Hanrahan, D Williams; J Ryan, K O’Byrne, BJ Botha; D O’Callaghan (capt), B Holland; CJ Stander, P Butler, R Copeland. Replacements: E Guinazu, A Cotter, S Archer, S McCarthy, B O’Mahony, C Sheridan, J Holland, R O’Mahony.
Referee: M MItrea (FIR).
Verdict: Munster win.