Hanrahan to start at outhalf for Munster as Carbery waits turn
Pro14 preview: Munster v Cheetahs, Thomond Park 5.15pm (Live on Eir Sport 1)
New recruit Joey Carbery will be on the Munster bench for the season opener against Cheetahs. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Okay, JJ Hanrahan is preferred by coach Johann van Graan to Joey Carbery at outhalf in Munster’s opening game of the season. The great experiment, one in which Carbery was reluctant to become involved, is a slow burn as Munster face the South African side in Thomond Park.
It’s Carbery’s fateful place in the rugby firmament that focus will follow his progress as Joe Schmidt’s preferred back-up to Johnny Sexton. For now that is off the Munster bench.
If the 22-year-old comes in to play at fullback for new signing Mike Haley, well that sound would be Schmidt self-imploding. Carbery’s place on the pitch probably comes with Irish player welfare attachments.
Along with Haley and probably Carbery new signings Arno Botha and Garryowen’s Neil Cronin make their Pro14 starting debuts – Botha in the backrow and Cronin at scrumhalf.
Cronin recently worked as a teacher before earning a one-year Munster contract playing in the AIL. His is a story that will give heart to many others.
Ireland Sevens player Shane Daly is another to keep an eye on as he also makes his debut joining Haley and Darren Sweetnam in the back three.
Cheetahs coach Franco Smith is pragmatic about his team’s chances. They have previously played and lost twice to Munster and arrive with seven players – Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Tian Schoeman, Luan de Bruin, JP du Preez, Walt Steenkamp, Aidon Davis and Ryno Eksteen – making their Pro14 debuts.
Cheetahs travel to Wales on Sunday where they play Ospreys next week before returning home.
“Tomorrow is the beginning of a new season,” said Smith. “We are realistic. We and have to stick to the process and try to adapt as quick as possible to the required tempo and intensity.”
International prop John Ryan returns to the Munster frontrow to make his first appearance of the season. He scrums down with the experienced pair of Mike Sherry and Dave Kilcoyne.
The familiar pairing of captain Billy Holland and Jean Kleyn continues in the secondrow with Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell and Botha forming the backrow.
MUNSTER: M Haley; D Sweetnam, D Goggin, R Scannell, S Daly; JJ Hanrahan, N Cronin; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, J Ryan; J Kleyn, B Holland (C); D O’Callaghan, T O’Donnell, Arno Botha. Replacements: R Marshall, B Scott, S Archer, D O’Shea, G Coombes, J Hart, J Carbery, S Arnold.
CHEETAHS: M Jael; R Maxwane, B Rensburg, N Lee, W Small-Smith; T Schoeman, S Venter; O Nche, J du Toit, L de Bruin, J Basson, JP du Preez, J Pokomela, O Mohoje, J Wiese. Replacements: J Dweba, C Marais, A Coetzee, W Steenkamp, A Davis, T Meyer, E Stapelberg, R Eksteen.
Referee: D Jones (WRU)