Simon Zebo starts as Munster name team for season opener

Rugby World Cup winner RG Snyman set to make his Thomond Park debut off the bench

Simon Zebo will make his second Munster debut when the Cell C Sharks visit Thomond Park on Saturday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Simon Zebo will make his second Munster debut when the Cell C Sharks visit Thomond Park on Saturday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Munster’s record try-scorer Simon Zebo makes a prodigal return to Thomond Park in a first competitive match with his native province since the Pro 14 final in May 2018 when they host the Sharks in their opening United Rugby Championship game on Saturday night (kick-off 7.35pm, live on RTÉ 2 and Premier Sports 1).

Zebo, who scored 60 tries in his previous 144 games for Munster, has been chosen on the left wing by Johann van Graan after returning from his three-year stint with Racing 92, and will be in a back three alongside Mike Haley and Andrew Conway.

Munster have been further boosted by the return of Springboks World Cup winner RG Snyman, who is set to make his Thomond Park debut off the bench on his second appearance for the province having missed last season through injury.

Eight of Munster’s Ireland internationals who featured in summer Tests start the game, including captain Peter O’Mahony.

Craig Casey and Joey Carbery start together in the halfbacks as Rory Scannell and Dan Goggin form the centre partnership.

Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan pack down in the frontrow with Jean Kleyn and Fineen Wycherley in the secondrow. O’Mahony, Jack O’Donoghue and last season’s player of the year Gavin Coombes complete the starting XV.

Along with fellow replacement Snyman, new addition Rowan Osborne is also set to play his first game for Munster at Thomond Park on his competitive debut for the province.

The Sharks make three changes from the starting XV which lost the Currie Cup final against the Bulls a fortnight ago, with centre Louw Marius restored and a new halfback pairing of Henry ‘Boeta’ Chamberlain and another former Ulster icon on Irish soil this weekend, Ruan Pienaar. The Sharks include former Munster secondrow Gerbrandt Grobler.

Tickets are only available online at Ticketmaster.ie and will be available to purchase online right up to kick-off but will not be available to purchase at the stadium on matchday.

MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Jack O’Donoghue, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Keynan Knox, RG Snyman, Thomas Ahern, Rowan Osborne, Ben Healy, Chris Cloete.

CELL C SHARKS: Bosch Curwin; Penxe Yaw, Kok Werner, Louw Marius, Abrahams Thaakir; Chamberlain Henry (Boeta), Pienaar Ruan; Mona Khwezi, Van Vuuren Kerron, Du Toit Thomas; Roets Le Roux, Grobler Gerbrandt; Richardson Dylan, Venter Henco, Buthelezi Phepsi (capt).

Replacements: Mbatha Fez, Mchunu Ntuthuko, Mchunu Khutha, Gumede Mpilo, Van Heerden Ruben, Andrews Hyron, Nohamba Sanele, Ward Jeremy.

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