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Munster welcome back their Lions for Cardiff Blues’ visit

On the bench JJ Hanrahan is in line for his first Munster appearance since 2015

Conor Murray is back in the Munster team for Saturday’s Pro14 encounter. Photograph: Inpho

Munster’s British and Irish Lions contingent of Conor Murray, captain Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander are among nine changes made by Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus for Saturday’s Pro14 clash with Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park.

O’Mahony and Stander are among six changes to the pack with the international front row trio of Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan all making their first starts of the season.

Robin Copeland is another to make his first start of 2017/18, doing so alongside Billy Holland in the second row. Tommy O’Donnell remains in situ at openside with O’Mahony and Stander returning at 6 and 8 respectively.

Murray and Ian Keatley come in at halfback as does Jaco Taute in midfield. Partnering Rory Scannell, the South African takes charge of the outside channel for the first time this season.

There’s no change in the back-three combination – Alex Wootton, Darren Sweetnam and Andrew Conway have to date started every game of the campaign.

Named on the bench, following a two-season spell at Northampton Saints, JJ Hanrahan is in line for his first Munster appearance since the 2015 Pro12 Final in Belfast.

Shannon lock Sean McCarthy is included in his first matchday squad this season, while new arrival from Saracens, Mark Flanagan, could make his Munster debut off the bench.

Munster: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Robin Copeland, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Liam O’Connor, Stephen Archer, Mark Flanagan, Sean McCarthy, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Chris Farrell.