CJ Stander will captain Munster in Thomond Park farewell

Johann van Graan has made a raft of changes for must-win match against Cardiff

Munster’s CJ Stander will captain the side on Friday. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Munster’s CJ Stander will captain the side on Friday. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Pro14 Rainbow Cup: Munster v Cardiff Blues

Kick-off: 7.35pm, Friday. Venue: Thomond Park. On TV: Live on eir Sport.

CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell and James Cronin will make their farewell appearances at Thomond Park after being named in Munster’s starting XV for their Guinness Pro14 Rainbow Cup game against Cardiff Blues.

Stander has been named captain of a side which shows seven changes from the defeat by Connacht at home a fortnight ago, with Mike Haley, Rory Scannell, Joey Carbery, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley and O’Donnell all restored to the starting XV.

Gavin Coombes returns from illness and is named among the replacements, as is Academy outhalf Jack Crowley after his stint with the Ireland sevens last week. The talented Crowley has been restricted to just 33 minutes in two appearances off the bench this season along with a handful of A games.

Scrumhalf Nick McCarthy is set for his final Munster appearance at Thomond Park before returning to Leinster after also being named on the bench. It transpires that the retiring Billy Holland and the Clermont-bound JJ Hanrahan have bade their Thomond farewells, the former having done so a fortnight ago and the latter a week previously when scoring a try in a 13-point haul in the 38-10 win over Ulster.

In what is a must-win game for both teams for them to retain hopes of reaching the North v South final in Treviso on June 19th, Dai Young has selected a strong Cardiff showing just two changes form the starting XV for the 29-28 bonus point win away to the Scarlets last time out.

The six-times capped James Botham, who was a part of Wales’ Six Nations title success, will make his first Cardiff Blues appearance in eight weeks since the Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat by London Irish at the beginning of April due to a calf injury.

The other alteration is in the front row, with Corey Domachowski restored at loosehead prop. There are returns on the bench for prop Dmitri Arhip and full-back Matthew Morgan, who have both recovered from injury.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Damian de Allende, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander (C). Replacements: Diarmuid Barron , Jeremy Loughman, Keynan Knox, Gavin Coombes, Peter O’Mahony, Nick McCarthy, Jack Crowley, Jack O’Sullivan.

Cardiff Blues: Hallam Amos; Jason Harries, Willis Halaholo, Ben Thomas, Josh Adams; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Corey Domachowski, Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Cory Hill, Josh Turnbull (capt.), James Botham, James Ratti. Replacements: Liam Belcher, Rhys Carré, Dmitri Arhip, Rory Thornton, Olly Robinson, Lloyd Williams, Harri Millard, Matthew Morgan.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland).

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