Jaco Taute back to aid Munster’s challenge

South African starts at fullback as Erasmus makes five changes for Scarlets’ visit

Munster’s Dave Kilcoyne celebrates with Jaco Taute after scoring a try against Newport Gwent Dragons. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Munster’s Dave Kilcoyne celebrates with Jaco Taute after scoring a try against Newport Gwent Dragons. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Munster v Scarlets, Thomond Park, 7.35pm (TG4)

A gritty winning performance from Munster last week against Ospreys, which keeps them at the top of the table, means a couple of players won’t make the field this week for Rassie Erasmus.

More encouragingly, Jaco Taute has made a full recovery from his shoulder knock against Newport to start at fullback this weekend as Erasmus makes five changes.

Jack O’Donoghue and Rory Scannell miss out. O’Donoghue (ankle) and Scannell (knee) are expected to return to training next week.

An opportunity knocks for Dan Goggin in the only other change to the backline. The academy centre takes his place alongside Francis Saili in midfield, Saili free to play having not being sanctioned in a midweek disciplinary hearing.

Ian Keatly, who became the extra man once Johnny Sexton was declared fit to play against France, along with Andrew Conway come into the match day squad from the Irish camp. They can expect to be sprung at some stage.

Inexperienced Conor Oliver makes his first appearance in the number eight jersey as he joins Dave O’Callaghan and Tommy O’Donnell in the back row.

Scarlets beat Zebre in Wales last week and know that Thomond Park is a bigger prospect with Munster’s territory game and their strong defence and efficiency.

“Week in week out they’re performing over the 80 minutes, every team is striving to do that but they’ve done it really, really well,” said Scarlets’ coach Wayne Pivac. “They’ve had some close calls but they’ve come out on the right side and that’s a sign of a well bonded team.”

Tadhg Beirne, the former Irish Under 20 and Leinster academy secondrow, who moved to Wales after last season, faces Munster’s Dave Foley and Billy Holland.

MUNSTER:  J Taute; D Sweetnam, F Saili, D Goggin, R O’Mahony; T Bleyendaal (capt), D Williams; D Kilcoyne, R Marshall, S Archer; D Foley, B Holland; D O’Callaghan, T O’Donnell, C Oliver. Replacements: K O’Byrne, P McCabe, B Scott, D O’Shea, F Wycherley, A Griesel, I Keatley, A Conway.

SCARLETS: J McNicholl;  DTH van der Merwe, S Hughes, H Parkes (capt), T Williams; D Jones, J Evans; W Jones, R Elias, W Kruger, T Price, T Beirne, A Shingler, J Davies, W Boyde. Replacements: D Hughes, L Garrett, N Thomas, R Bernardo, M Allen, A Davies, A Thomas, I Nicholas.

Referee: D Jones (WRU).

Verdict:  Munster.

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