Munster welcome back Keith Earls and Ian Keatley

Anthony Foley names a strong side for visit of Cardiff Blues at newly refurbished Musgrave Park

Ian Keatley and Keith Earls have been named in Munster’s team for tomorrow night’s game against Cardiff Blues. (Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Ian Keatley and Keith Earls have been named in Munster’s team for tomorrow night’s game against Cardiff Blues. (Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

 

Munster v Cardiff Blues, Musgrave Park (7.35, live on TG4)

Munster will be hoping to celebrate their return to the newly refurbished Cork venue with a victory and given the availability of a couple of front-line players on furlough from the Ireland squad this should be eminently achievable.

Ian Keatley, fresh from his performance in Rome last week, is named at outhalf in a backline that contains Keith Earls in the centre, alongside captain, Denis Hurley, and with JJ Hanrahan lining out at fullback. Dave Kilcoyne, on his way back from injury, is named among the replacements.

There is an experienced core to a pack that also contains, last year’s Ireland Under-20 captain and a number eight of huge promise, Jack O’Donoghue. This will be his first start for the province having twice come on as a replacement in Pro12 games this season. Rory Scanell is another young player of promise who has been included on the bench.

Argentine Eusebio Guinazu will fulfil his more familiar role of hooker while Donncha O’Callaghan, Billy Holland, BJ Botha, Dave O’Callaghan and Sean Dougall will be looking to give Munster a platform to release a talented backline.

Cardiff’s director of rugby Mark Hammett makes eight changes to the side that lost to Leinster last month and one of those marks the return of the excellent young outhalf, Rhys Patchell. Cory Allen is back in midfield alongside Gavin Evans after being released by Wales.

Hooker Matthew Rees captains the team from the front row where he’ll pack down alongside former Wales and Lions tighthead Adam Jones. The Blues will be looking to repeat the 17-6 victory they claimed the last time the two teams met in Cork in January 2013.

Hammett said: “We start a big month of fixtures as we look to move up the table. We’ve played really well at times this season without always getting the results. We now need to start getting some victories on the board.”

If Munster can secure some quick, front foot ball, then they certainly possess the quality to translate it to the scoreboard.

Munster: JJ Hanrahan; A Conway, K Earls, D Hurley (capt), R O’Mahony; I Keatley, D Williams; J Ryan, E Guinazu, BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan, B Holland; S Dougall, Dave O’Callaghan, J O’Donoghue. Replacements: N Scannell, D Kilcoyne, S Archer, S Buckley, P Butler, N Cronin, R Scannell, I Dineen.

Cardiff Blues: J Tuculet; R Smith, C Allen, G Evans, L Amorosino; R Patchell, L Willliams; S Hobbs, M Rees (capt), 3 A Jones; M Cook, F Paulo; J Turnbull, J Navidi, M Vosawai. Replacements: K Dacey, T Davies, T Filise, M Normandale, E Jenkins, T Knoyle, G Davies, T Isaacs.

Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)

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