Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has made eight changes to the team that defeated Benetton Treviso for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO12 round 22 encounter with Connacht at Thomond Park (kick-off 5.15pm).
With James Cronin, Rhys Marshall and Stephen Archer remaining in the front row, Billy Holland returns to captain the province and partners Darren O’Shea in the second row.
The only other change in the forwards sees Jean Deysel overcome a rib injury to start at blindside flanker. Named yesterday as the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Player of the Year, Conor Oliver joins Jack O’Donoghue in completing the pack.
Angus Lloyd and Ian Keatley come in at half-back with Keatley set to make his 150th appearance for Munster, doing so against his former side for whom he won 57 caps.
In midfield, Academy centre Dan Goggin returns to the starting line-up alongside Jaco Taute who just today was announced as one of six Munster players in the 2016/17 GUINNESS PRO12 Dream Team. The final changes see speedsters Keith Earls, Alex Wootton and Andrew Conway form a new back-three.
Selecting a very strong bench that has no less than six Ireland internationals, Rassie Erasmus includes Conor Murray in a matchday 23 for the first time since the scrum half sustained a shoulder injury in Ireland’s Six Nations defeat to Wales in Cardiff back in March.
On the injury front, following a scan this week, versatile forward Dave O’Callaghan will meet with a specialist for the knee injury he sustained during last weekend’s round 21 win over Treviso.
Munster v Connacht tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster.ie, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park, or by calling 061 421103.
MUNSTER (v Connacht): Andrew Conway; Alex Wootton, Jaco Taute, Dan Goggin, Keith Earls; Ian Keatley, Angus Lloyd; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer, Darren O’Shea, Billy Holland (capt), Jean Deysel, Conor Oliver, Jack O’Donoghue.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell, Conor Murray, Tyler Bleyendaal, Francis Saili.