With a number of international players unavailable for selection, Anthony Foley has rung the changes for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO12 clash with Cardiff Blues. Donncha O’Callaghan, Munster’s most-capped player, will captain the province in the Welsh capital.
In total, there are 11 personnel changes to the Munster team that defeated Saracens 14-3 in Pool 1 of the European Champions Cup last weekend.
In the front row John Ryan returns from illness to start at loosehead prop alongside hooker Kevin O’Byrne, while BJ Botha retains his starting position at tighthead.
Donncha O’Callaghan, Munster’s record caps holder, returns to the matchday squad and will captain the side from the second row alongside Billy Holland who is promoted from the bench.
In the back row CJ Stander switches from number 8 to blindside flanker, and following two strong performances for Munster ‘A’ in the British & Irish Cup in which he scored two tries, Paddy Butler dons the number 7 jersey.
Robin Copeland is also promoted to a starting position as he faces his old Cardiff team-mates from the back of the scrum.
Duncan Williams and JJ Hanrahan are paired together from the start for the first time this season at scrum half and out half respectively, while impressive appearances in all Munster ‘A’ games to date this season sees year two Academy player Rory Scannell selected for his first senior competitive appearance, featuring in the centre alongside Andrew Smith.
Having trained with Ireland at Carton House earlier this week, Andrew Conway remains on the right wing with Gerhard van den Heever coming in on the opposite flank. Johne Murphy also returns at full-back.
Following his inclusion in the Ireland squad for the upcoming GUINNESS Series, Stephen Archer provides front row cover on the bench and year two Academy second row Sean McCarthy is another player in line to make his competitive debut after being named among the replacements.
Meanwhile, prop Alan Cotter and flanker Barry O’Mahony – two of the forward replacements – could also feature in the PRO12 for the first time this season.
MUNSTER (v Cardiff Blues): Johne Murphy; Andrew Conway, Andrew Smith, Rory Scannell, Gerhard van den Heever; JJ Hanrahan, Duncan Williams; John Ryan, Kevin O’Byrne, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan (capt), Billy Holland, CJ Stander, Paddy Butler, Robin Copeland.
Replacements: Eusebio Guinazu, Alan Cotter, Stephen Archer, Sean McCarthy, Barry O’Mahony, Cathal Sheridan, Johnny Holland, Ronan O’Mahony.