Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has named his team for Saturday’s Champions Cup semi-final showdown with defending champions Saracens at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 3.15pm).
CJ Stander has overcome the ankle injury he sustained during the recent quarter-final win over Toulouse to be named in the province’s starting XV.
Stander is one of five changes to the side that defeated Ulster at Thomond Park in the GUINNESS PRO12 last weekend. The Ireland international and 2017 British & Irish Lion is the only change to the pack as he joins fellow Lions squad member Peter O’Mahony and Tommy O’Donnell in the back row.
An unchanged front five sees Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan scrum down in the front row, while the squad’s most capped duo of Donnacha Ryan and Billy Holland continue their second row partnership.
With late changes to the starting line-up last weekend, the half-back pairing of Duncan Williams and Tyler Bleyendaal return to the starting berths. Conor Murray, the third of Munster’s 2017 Lions, remains sidelined with a shoulder/neck injury.
Centre Jaco Taute also makes a return as he resumes his European midfield partnership with Rory Scannell who has been deemed fit to play after a knock to his ankle during last Saturday’s interprovincial clash.
The final change comes on the right wing where recent Ireland debutant Andrew Conway joins Keith Earls and Simon Zebo in the back-three. South African powerhouse Jean Deysel will make his Champions Cup debut if he is sprung from the bench.
MUNSTER (v Saracens): Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Dave O’Callaghan, Jean Deysel, Ian Keatley, Francis Saili, Darren Sweetnam.