Jump to main content


Munster Call On O’Byrne And Sweetnam For Tigers Test

Munster Call On O’Byrne And Sweetnam For Tigers Test

Head coach Johann van Graan has made two changes to the starting XV for Munster’s Champions Cup round 4 showdown with Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Sunday (kick-off 5.30pm).

It is a first European start for hooker Kevin O’Byrne as both he and winger Darren Sweetnam are promoted from the bench this weekend, with the sidelined Andrew Conway and Rhys Marshall continuing to follow the return-to-play protocols. 

Ireland internationals Keith Earls and Niall Scannell are notable returnees from their respective hamstring and thumb injuries and are included in the matchday 23. Billy Holland continues in the second row having already started all 13 of Munster’s matches so far this season.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

There was much to admire about last Saturday’s 33-10 bonus point victory over Leicester in Limerick, but a high penalty count – Munster conceded 13 penalties compared to the visitors’ eight – has Johann van Graan focusing on discipline ahead of the rematch.

It’s been too high. We’ve got to get the penalty count down,” explained the South African. “The interesting thing is we only had four penalties in the first half, the first 60 I think we had six or seven penalties, which is quite normal for a game of this magnitude.

“It was just the last bit, we conceded five in five minutes, which we can be a lot better in. I’ll take the positive out of that, the way that we defended our own line with the game already won and a bonus point in the bag. All credit to the players who put their bodies on the line and defended that goal line of ours with all that they had.

“But we’ve got to be better in terms of our discipline. It’s definitely not a problem. You look at every penalty by itself, there’s not a trend that we concede penalties in one specific area. There was one scrum penalty, a side-entry in a maul, two holding on penalties, one offside where one of the guys got up and tackled a guy from an offside position.

“So, it’s not a trend when we concede 10 penalties in one area. Obviously, we’d like to concede zero penalties in a perfect world but, like I said before, we want to improve every single week and I thought we did so last weekend.”

Having got his first chance to coach against a highly-rated English club, van Graan was impressed with aspects of Leicester’s play at Thomond Park and knows that they will come at Munster hard on home soil. “They’ve got quality players all round the park. I thought Dan Cole put a lot of pressure on at the breakdown in terms of stealing. I thought their maul went very well. They found a few spaces within our defensive line, especially out wide, which we’ll have to have a look at,” he said.

“Their broken field, I thought they put us under quite a lot of pressure. The second play of the game went for three or four minutes. So they’ll back themselves at home but I can’t control them, We respect them a lot, playing at their home ground, in a massive game for both teams. We’ve prepared like any normal week and hopefully we can deliver a good performance.”

MUNSTER (v Leicester Tigers): Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Sam Arnold, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Brian Scott, John Ryan, Darren O’Shea, Jack O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Keith Earls.