Munster head coach Anthony Foley has named his team to face Glasgow Warriors in Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO12 final at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 6.30pm), making a number of tactical and injury-enforced changes to the side that defeated the Ospreys.
Having failed a late fitness test, Munster captain Peter O’Mahony (hip flexor) is unavailable for selection while injury also rules out Conor Murray. The scrum half met with a specialist yesterday and is required to rehab a medial ligament knee injury for the next six weeks.
As expected, Andrew Smith, Eusebio Guinazu and Paddy Butler, all of whom sat out Tuesday’s training session, have recovered from their respective knocks to make the starting line-up.
There is good news also for Simon Zebo who has successfully completed his return-to-play protocols to start on the left wing.
In O’Mahony’s absence, centre Denis Hurley, a try scorer against the Ospreys last weekend, will captain the province for the seventh time this season.
The only change in the front row sees BJ Botha come in to win his 100th Munster cap, starting alongside Dave Kilcoyne and Guinazu. The South African tighthead prop becomes the fifth player this season – and the tenth of the current squad – to reach the century milestone for the province.
With Donnacha Ryan making the switch to blindside flanker this weekend, Billy Holland comes into the second row to partner Paul O’Connell for what could be the former Munster skipper’s final game in the famous red jersey.
Ryan is the only change to the back row with Butler and CJ Stander, the man-of-the-match in the semi-final win, completing the pack at openside and number 8 respectively.
The only switch in the back-line sees Duncan Williams take over from the sidelined Murray as Ian Keatley’s half-back partner. Australian Smith continues his centre partnership with Hurley, while Zebo, Keith Earls and full-back Felix Jones will again start in the back-three.
Having sustained a bruised knee in April, James Cronin returns to provide front row cover from the bench with Cathal Sheridan another fit-again player in the matchday 23. The scrum half could feature in the PRO12 for the first time since November after successfully rehabbing a prolonged forearm injury.
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MUNSTER (v Glasgow Warriors): Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Andrew Smith, Denis Hurley (capt), Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Eusebio Guinazu, BJ Botha, Billy Holland, Paul O’Connell, Donnacha Ryan, Paddy Butler, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Sean Dougall, Jack O’Donoghue, Cathal Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan, Ronan O’Mahony.