Experimental Munster should have too much for Dragons

JJ Hanrahan moves to fullback as weakened side travels to Wales in Pro12

JJ Hanrahan’s start at fullback should make for interesting viewing in Newport. Photograph: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

JJ Hanrahan is the latest young Irish back to road-test his ability to switch between positions when he lines out at fullback for Munster. Ostensibly an outhalf who is equally accomplished at inside centre, it will be interesting to note how he adapts to his new role.

Anthony Foley makes seven changes and two positional switches to the side that defeated the Blues for the trip to Wales and has included centre Pat Howard, signed on a short-term contract, among the replacements.

Argentine hooker Eusebio Guinazu makes his first start, while Stephen Archer takes over from BJ Botha at tighthead. Robin Copeland is named at number eight just five days after making his Ireland debut. He is joined in the backrow by Paddy Butler, who shifts to blindside flanker with Sean Dougall at openside.

Butler said of tonight’s match: “This is the chance to put our hands up. You have to take that chance in a team like this so everyone is focused on the job now, nailing down the detail early in the week so we can go out there and play with aggression, the way we play best and get a good result in Newport. I think they are targeting this match. They have been talking it up in the papers. They will be raring to go.”


Ian Keatley is partnered by Cathal Sheridan in a team led by Donncha O’Callaghan, whose namesake Dave, is on the bench for the first time since February.

The Dragons are the least disrupted by national team call-ups of all the Welsh franchises but have lost their last three matches. Munster have a very strong bench and while Rodney Parade is a tough place to go, they look eminently capable of winning.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer