Donncha O’Callaghan to lead Munster against Cardiff

Veteran lock named in side that shows 11 changes from team that beat Saracens

 Donncha O’Callaghan will captain Munster against Cardiff Blues. Photograph; Cathal Noonan / Inpho

Donncha O’Callaghan will captain Munster against Cardiff Blues. Photograph; Cathal Noonan / Inpho

 

Donncha O’Callaghan will lead a Munster side that shows 11 changes from the win over Saracens out against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on Saturday (5:15pm).

The veteran lock will operate alongside Billy Holland in the secondrow, behind the returning loosehead prop John Ryan and hooker Kevin O’Byrne, with BJ Botha retaining his spot at tighthead.

CJ Stander remains in the backrow but switches to number six, with Paddy Butler named at seven and Robin Copeland at number eight.

Duncan Williams and JJ Hanrahan form the halfback pairing for the first time this season and there’s debut cap for Adademt graduate Rory Scannell, alongside outside centre Andrew Smith.

Andrew Conway has been released from Ireland camp and so retains his place on the right wing, with Gerhard van den Heever coming in on the left and Johne Murphy named at fullback.

Argentina international Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino will debut for Cardiff Blues on the left wing, in one of seven changes to the side that defeated Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo in Italy last weekend.

“We go into the Munster fixture on the back of two bonus point victories in Europe, but we are certainly not getting carried away with those wins,” director of rugby Mark Hammett said today. “Playing in Europe allowed us to build confidence, momentum and work on our structures and systems. Our challenge is to transfer that into the PRO12 against a powerhouse side in Munster.

“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.”

Cardiff Blues: R Patchell, R Smith, A Thomas, G Evans, L Amorosino, G Davies, L Williams; S Hobbs, M Rees (captain), 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 (captain), 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

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