Munster rest their Lions as they hunt down Zebre in Italy
CJ Stander and Mike Haley have also been left out following the firepit accident
Liam and Gavin Coombes will line out for Munster against Zebre on Friday night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Not surprisingly, discretion has proved the better part of valour for Munster in their decision to rest their two Lions, Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray, this evening after the cancellation of the Ospreys-Benetton game ended their hopes of reaching next week’s final.
Furthermore, in addition to Damian de Allende and the injured RG Snyman, Munster have also excused the other two players in last weekend’s fire pit accident, CJ Stander and Mike Haley, from duty in Parma.
“We’ve again mixed the side with a good balance of experienced and younger players so it’s another 80 minutes of rugby, and with some players competing for Irish selection also there are plenty of motivating factors,” maintained head coach Johann van Graan.
“For CJ and Mike it was just a case of running out of time and it’s important they and their injuries take the time to heal following last weekend’s accident.”
There are seven changes to the team that secured a bonus-point win over Cardiff Blues last time out. Skibbereen cousins Liam and Gavin Coombes start together for the third time with Matt Gallagher, Chris Farrell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan and captain Peter O’Mahony also returning to the side.
Academy duo Thomas Ahern and Jake Flannery are among the replacements alongside Billy Holland and Nick McCarthy, who are set to make their final Munster appearances. McCarthy is returning to Leinster while Holland will play in his 247th and final game for Munster.
Zebre have lost their last eight matches since beating the Dragons at home in February while their most recent success against an Irish province came at Connacht more than three years ago.
Munster have lost only once away from home since January, against Leinster in the final of the Guinness Pro14 on March 27th, and in 16 meetings between these two sides they have won all of them.
Zebre: Jacopo Trulla; Giovanni D’Onofrio, Federico Mori, Enrico Lucchin, Pierre Bruno; Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi; Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi, Matteo Nocera; David Sisi, Leonard Krumov; Iacopo Bianchi, Potu Junior Leavasa, Renato Giammarioli. Replacements: Marco Manfredi, Daniele Rimpelli, Nicolò D’Amico, Samuele Ortis*, Giovanni Licata, Nicolò Casilio, Filippo Di Marco, Michelangelo Biondelli.
Munster: Matt Gallagher; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Jack O’Donoghue, Gavin Coombes. Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Roman Salanoa, Thomas Ahern, Billy Holland, Nick McCarthy, Jake Flannery, Chris Cloete.
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy).
Forecast: Munster to win.