Niall Scannell captains Munster side for Zebre challenge

Tommy O’Donnell and Darren Sweetnam are both among the replacements

Munster will be led out by Niall Scannell on Friday night. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Munster will be led out by Niall Scannell on Friday night. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Munster head coach Johann van Graan has made six changes to the side that defeated Southern Kings in Cork last week for his team’s Pro14 clash with Zebre at Milan’s Stadio Giovanni Mari on Friday night (kick-off: 7.35pm Irish).

Van Graan hands the captaincy to hooker Niall Scannell for the first time, and he is joined by James Cronin and John Ryan in an unchanged international frontrow.

It will be proud day for the Scannell and O’Sullivan family as Niall gets to lead his brother Rory and cousin Jack O’Sullivan out on the field for the first time.

Darren O’Shea links up with Fineen Wycherley in the engine room, as Chris Cloete and the academy’s Jack O’Sullivan join Arno Botha in the backrow. Botha makes the positional switch to start at blindside for the first time.

Craig Casey is introduced to partner JJ Hanrahan in the halfbacks. Rory Scannell and Sammy Arnold form the centre partnership this week, as the back three of Mike Haley, Calvin Nash and Shane Daly remain in situ.

Tommy O’Donnell and Darren Sweetnam are in line for a return with both named in the replacements after overcoming respective hamstring injuries. O’Donnell last lined out against Leinster in December, while Sweetnam has been sidelined since the Cheetahs in October.

Munster: Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Craig Casey; James Cronin, Niall Scannell (capt), John Ryan; Fineen Wycherley, Darren O’Shea; Arno Botha, Chris Cloete, Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Gavin Coombes, Tommy O’Donnell, Neil Cronin, Dan Goggin, Darren Sweetnam.

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