Head coach Johann van Graan has made four changes to the team that defeated Leicester Tigers last time out, as they prepare to host Leinster in the sold-out interprovincial derby at Thomond Park on St. Stephen’s Day (kick-off 3.15pm).
Returning to the side are Rhys Marshall and Andrew Conway with both players successfully completing their return-to-play protocols. Keith Earls and Tommy O’Donnell are also named to start for the first time since the round 7 trip to Connacht.
In the back-three, Earls takes the place of Alex Wootton on the left wing while Conway replaces Simon Zebo at full-back, joining Corkman Darren Sweetnam who once again retains the number 14 jersey.
The centre paring of Rory Scannell and Sam Arnold, along with the half-backs of Ian Keatley, the 20-point hero against Leicester at Welford Road, and Conor Murray, are unchanged for the first of Munster’s three festive derby outings.
Tipperary man O’Donnell completes an all-Ireland international back row that includes CJ Stander – Munster’s try scorer away to Leicester – and captain Peter O’Mahony who becomes the latest player to make 100 appearances for the province.
Jean Kleyn and Billy Holland, who is set for his 15th successive start of the current season, continue their second row partnership as Marshall joins the unchanged props of Dave Kicoyne and Stephen Archer in the front row.
Named in the replacements is Ireland-capped loosehead James Cronin who returns from a calf injury he sustained while playing for the Barbarians against Tonga at Thomond Park last month.
With additional seating put in place and an increased capacity of 26,267, all tickets have now been sold for the Munster v Leinster PRO14 encounter which has also been nominated as Munster’s official ‘charity match’ in aid of Munster’s charity partner, the Irish Heart Foundation. €;1 from each match programme sold on St. Stephen’s Day will be donated to the charity.
MUNSTER (v Leinster): Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Sam Arnold, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, James Cronin, John Ryan, Darren O’Shea, Jack O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Simon Zebo.