Munster set to pile the pain on struggling Ospreys
New coach Johan van Graan looking for a first home victory in the Pro14
Darren Sweetnam: back in Munster colours following his return from international duty with Ireland. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Munster v Ospreys, Musgrave Park 5.30pm (Live Sky)
Johan van Graan is flying solo at home for the first time, seeking Munster’s third win in a row in the Pro14. With outhalf Ian Keatley and tighthead prop John Ryan returning from Ireland duty, van Graan can also play Darren Sweetnam, who recently claimed his first cap.
Simon Zebo slots in at fullback with Sweetnam and left wing, Alex Wootton, Munster’s top scorer with seven tries so far this season.
Billy Holland captains the side in the secondrow along side Jean Klyne.
Munster face an Ospreys team missing their frontline Wales players. Outhalf Dan Biggar, lock and Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones as well as Warren Gatland’s replacements Rhodri Jones, Dan Lydiate, Rhys Webb and Owen Watkin, who boast around 280 caps between them
That is offset you would think by Peter O’Mahony, C J Stander, Conor Murray, Andrew Conway and Chris Farrell not lining out for Munster.
Since the Welsh Union took control of the sides, this will be their lot every year with Wales playing an extra international fixture except in a World Cup year and hence the weakened travelling Ospreys side.
Recently they have been poor prompting James Hook to ask his team-mates to look at themselves in the mirror, more so after last weekend’s 6-47 defeat to Glasgow.
“We can talk all we like but we’ve just got to go out on the pitch and put in a performance that represents us as a team, as Ospreys,” said Hook.
“It is never easy and you’ve got to look back at the game. I know there has been some honesty calls at the team meeting, calling players out, which happened this week.”
Rebound or more pain? You’d have to go with Munster.
MUNSTER: Munster: S Zebo; D Sweetnam, S Arnold, R Scannell, A Wootton; I Keatley, J Hart; L O’Connor, R Marshall, J Ryan; J Kleyn, B Holland (C); J O’Donoghue, C Cloete, R Copeland.Replacements: K O’Byrne, B Scott, S Archer, D O’Shea, S O’Connor, D Williams, JJ Hanrahan, C Nash.
OSPREYS: D Evans; H Dirksen, K Fonotia, J Hook, J Hessler; S davies, T Habberfield; G Thomas, S Parry, D Arhip, L Ashley, B Davies (C), O Cracknell, W Jones, J King. Replacements: S Baldwin, R Jenkins, M Fia, R McCusker, G Mercer, R Morgan-Williams, L Price, J Thomas.
Referee: B Whitehouse (WRU)
Verdict: Munster to win