All change for Munster ahead of trip to Ulster
Jaco Taute comes in to captain the team while Ulster make just three changes
Munster’s Jaco Taute will captain the side against Ulster in the Pro14. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Pro 14: Ulster v Munster
Kick off: 7.35pm, Friday. Venue: Kingspan Stadium. On TV: Eir Sport and Premier Sports.
Johann van Graan has made 13 changes to his Munster side to face Ulster in the first of the festive interpros with Jaco Taute coming into captain the side for the first time.
Mike Haley keeps his place at full-back with Darren Sweetnam returning from an injury sustained on international duty last month to start on the right wing with Alex Wootton on the opposite flank.
Sammy Arnold keeps his place at outside centre and partners Taute in midfield with Alby Mathewson and JJ Hanrahan in the half-backs.
Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne and Stephen Archer pack down in the front row as Jean Kleyn returns from injury to partner Darren O’Shea in the engine room.
Conor Oliver makes his first start of the campaign having missed the early stages of the season through injury and is joined in the back row by Fineen Wycherley and Arno Botha.
Fit-again Tommy O’Donnell takes his place among the replacements along with Academy duo Gavin Coombes and Shane Daly.
For Ulster it’s more of a case of familiar faces with just three changes in total from the side that beat Scarlets last weekend.
Two of the new faces come in the pack, with Rob Herring starting at hooker and taking over the captaincy, and lock Ian Nagle returning from injury to make his first start for the province.
Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore will join Herring in the front row, while Kieran Treadwell will pack down beside Nagle in the second row. The loose forward combination of Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee is unchanged.
Academy winger Robert Baloucoune comes into the backline and will line out in the back three alongside the experienced Louis Ludik and Henry Speight.
The half-back axis of John Cooney and Billy Burns is retained along with the midfield pairing of Stuart McCloskey and Will Addison.
Rory Best, Kyle McCall and Ross Kane will are named as the front row replacements, while Clive Ross and Nick Timoney provide additional forward cover. Academy back James Hume is recalled to the match day squad, with Dave Shanahan and Johnny McPhillips also included.
ULSTER: L Ludik; H Speight, W Addison, S McCloskey, R Baloucoune; B Burns, J Cooney: E O’Sullivan, R Herring (C), M Moore; I Nagle, K Treadwell; S Reidy, J Murphy, M Coetzee.
Replacements: R Best, K McCall, R Kane, C Ross, N Timoney, D Shanahan, J McPhillips, J Hume.
MUNSTER: M Haley; D Sweetnam, S Arnold, J Taute (C), A Wootton; JJ Hanrahan, A Mathewson; J Loughman, K O’Byrne, S Archer; J Kleyn, D O’Shea; F Wycherley, C Oliver, A Botha.
Replacements: M Sherry, D Kilcoyne, C Parker, G Coombes, T O’Donnell, N Cronin, B Johnston, S Daly.