Munster look to give Holland fitting celebration as he wins 240th cap
Van Graan admits Edinburgh clash will be a very ‘tough game that can go either way’
Munster captain Billy Holland joins Ronan O’Gara in joint second place on the all-time list, 26 behind Donncha O’Callaghan. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Edinburgh v Munster
Murrayfield, (7.35, live on Eir Sport, Premier Sports)
Munster head coach Johann van Graan will be hoping that the province rediscover their best form, to not only win the match, but to provide a fitting celebration for captain Billy Holland on the occasion of his 240th appearance. He joins Ronan O’Gara in joint second place on the all-time list, 26 behind Donncha O’Callaghan.
Andrew Conway will make his first appearance since December, while Craig Casey, an unused replacement against France, will start at halfback alongside JJ Hanrahan. There is plenty of experience up front in a pack that includes free-scoring number eight, Gavin Coombes.
Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has been given access to three internationals from the Scotland squad, hooker David Cherry, secondrow Grant Gilchrist and outhalf Jaco van der Walt. On the bench, recently recruited South African prop Boan Venter and Mark Currie could make their respective debuts.
Van Graan acknowledged the challenge that awaits his side in Edinburgh. “There are a lot of very good teams in this pool. We’ve had one or two games that we’ve won in the last minute. Edinburgh are a quality team; they beat us in Cork a year ago and it will definitely be a battle.
“We know exactly what’s coming and so will they. We’ve a lot of respect for their coaching staff and what they’ve done with that team. [Number eight] Bill Mata is one of the best players in the world.
“They’ve got a very specific way of playing, a kicking game off nine and 10 [and] you know what’s coming [but] you’ve got to stop that. [They also possess] a very aggressive defence. Some of the [Edinburgh] players there, I’ve coached before. They’re just a good rugby team. It will be a very tough game that can go either way.”
Munster are 10 points clear of Connacht at the top of Conference B and while they were fortunate to escape with a last-gasp victory over Benetton – not for the first time – it demonstrates character and that will be important in forging yet another win.
Edinburgh: D Hoyland; J Blain, M Bennett, C Dean E Sau; J van der Walt, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, D Cherry, L-R Atalifo; A Davidson, G Gilchrist; N Haining, L Crosbie, B Mata. Replacements: M Willemse, B Venter, M McCallum, M Bradbury, A Miller, C Shiel, N Chamberlain, M Currie.
Munster: M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell, D de Allende, S Daly; JJ Hanrahan, C Casey; J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, B Holland (capt); J O’Donoghue, C Cloete, G Coombes. Replacements: K O’Byrne, J Loughman, S Archer, F Wycherley, J O’Sullivan, N McCarthy, B Healy, R Scannell.
Referee: M Adamson (Scotland)