Munster make five changes to stop Cardiff earning double
Ian Keatley returns to the starting team at outhalf after spell with international side
Jaco Taute comes at midfield for Munster for game against Cardiff Blues. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.
Cardiff v Munster
Cardiff Arms Park, Saturday, 5.15pm, Live Sky Sports 2
Sometimes it depends how you want to look at these things. Cardiff earned a 24-23 victory over Munster at Musgrave Park earlier this season and Rassie Erasmus’s side have only lost two Pro12 matches since then.
Most people would prefer to see it from the Munster angle, although one of those two defeats was last week to Scarlets.
Taken overall you could see how the Cardiff coach Danny Wilson could spin a positive line to his players and provide them with a chink in the Munster armour, especially at home on their plastic pitch.
Billy Holland is just the player to ensure Munster face the challenge with some vim. He will captain the side. Erasmus has made five changes from last week.
Tyler Bleyendaal, who has been a constant presence at outhalf, has been rotated for player overload concerns with Ian Keatley coming in after a spell with the Ireland squad.
Rory Scannell and Jaco Taute resume their partnership in midfield, Scannell overcoming the knock to his knee and Taute making the positional switch from fullback.
Andrew Conway, who has been eye catching and confident in his recent performances, returns to the starting line-up at fullback, while in the pack Darren O’Shea comes in with Robin Copeland making his return from a thumb injury to start at number eight.
However, Cardiff are stretched more than usual and are without no fewer than 14 players through international requirements and injury.
None of their Wales contingent have been released for the game, with Sam Warburton, Alex Cuthbert, Kristian Dacey and Scott Andrews all retained in camp.
The Cardiff sickbay is also bursting with Gethin Jenkins, Rey Lee-Lo, Ellis Jenkins, Josh Turnbull, Rhys Gill, Dan Fish and Blaine Scully unavailable.
“It’s a great challenge to try to secure the double over Munster, something which doesn’t present itself season in, season out, and we have that opportunity,” said a hopeful Wilson.
Until last week Munster had not lost since October, a run of nine games. Now is good chance to begin another run.
CARDIFF BLUES: M Morgan; A Summerhill, W Halaholo, S Shingler, T James; G Anscombe, L Williams (capt); C Domachowski, M Rees, A Peikrishvili, G Earle, J Hoeata, M Cook, J Navidi, N Williams. Replacements: K Myhill, M Thomas, T Filise, J Down, S Bennett, T Williams, G Smith, R Williams
MUNSTER: A Conway; D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell, R O’Mahony, I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, RMarshall, S Archer; D O’Shea, B Holland (capt), D O’Callaghan, T O’Donnell, R Copeland. Replacements: K O’Byrne, P McCabe, B Scott, F Wycherley, C Oliver, A Griesel, D Goggin, F Saili.
Referee: M Adamson (SRU).