Joey Carbery on the Munster bench again for Connacht clash
Craig Casey returns to the provincial fold while Bundee Aki starts for the visitors
Joey Carbery is named on the Munster bench again for Friday’s clash with Connacht. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Pro14: Munster v Connacht, Friday March 5th, Thomond Park (kick-off 7.35pm, eir Sport)
Joey Carbery’s rehabilitation is set to continue on Friday night, with the Ireland outhalf again named on the Munster bench for their interprovincial clash with Connact.
And he could help steer the province into the Pro14 final, with Johann van Graan’s side one victory away from the showpiece on March 27th.
Ireland and Munster supporters will have all eyes on the halfbacks, with Craig Casey - who impressed during his Six Nations cameo against Italy last weekend - returning to take the number nine jersey alongside Ben Healy.
Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell form an all-international midfield, while Mike Haley is named at fullback with Andrew Conway and Shane Daly on the wings in a dangerous backline.
In the pack James Cronin, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer form the frontrow, with Fineen Wycherley and Billy Holland in the engine room. Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete and Gavin Coombes complete the backrow.
Meanwhile Bundee Aki, who has been unable to remove Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose from the Irish midfield, starts for the visitors at Thomond Park.
Dave Heffernan and Ultan Dillane have also returned from international duty, with Andy Friend making seven changes in total from the side who edged out Benetton in Italy last time out.
Connacht are chasing a record sixth-consecutive away win, and Friend has acknowledged there is plenty on the line in Limerick.
He said: “ There has been barely any talk of securing Champions Cup qualification because our first objective has always been 1st place in the Conference B, so all our focus since last weekend has been on getting a win that gives us that fighting chance of a final spot.
“Thankfully we haven’t picked up any major injury worries in our last two games so we’ve a pretty healthy squad apart from our long-term absentees.
“We’ve named a very experienced starting XV but we’ve made sure to also reward those who showed good form in our last few games. Overall we’re in a positive place and we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”
Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland (capt); Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes. Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Jack O’Sullivan, Nick McCarthy, Joey Carbery, Damien de Allende.
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Tom Daly, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham; Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury; Jarrad Butler (capt), Conor Oliver, Paul Boyle. Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Jack Aungier, Niall Murray, Eoghan Masterson, Kieran Marmion, Sean O’Brien (academy), Alex Wootton.