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Carbery And Stander Back In Munster Team For Castres Tie

Carbery And Stander Back In Munster Team For Castres Tie

Munster head coach Johann van Graan has made two changes to the team for Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup round 3 match against Castres Olympique at Thomond Park (kick-off 1pm). Joey Carbery and CJ Stander both return to the starting XV.

Mike Haley starts at full-back with free-scoring Andrew Conway and Keith Earls completing the back-three. Chris Farrell, the man-of-the-match against Edinburgh, and Rory Scannell continue in the centre with half-backs Joey Carbery and Conor Murray paired together in the red of Munster for the first time.

The tight five are unchanged with Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan packing down in the front row and Tadhg Beirne and Billy Holland in the engine room. Peter O’Mahony captains the province from the back row with Chris Cloete and the returning CJ Stander completing the line-up.

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Jeremy Loughman, who has signed a one-year contract extension with Munster, Ciaran Parker and Fineen Wycherley, who has signed on for a further two years, are all in line to make their Champions Cup debuts off the bench.

With Munster hosting Castres first up in the back-to-back fixtures, skipper O’Mahony said: “It’s first and second in the group at the moment, you’ll know after these two weeks where the whole thing stands. The European season depends on Sunday for us, because we’re first up at home.

“We’ve come out on the right side of a couple of very close games (in a six-match unbeaten run) and that is massively important for us going back even before the Glasgow game which was a big match for us. We’ve got a decent amount of points, particularly in the league in the last few weeks and it was very important for the standings. But Castres this week are going to be a huge challenge for us.

“I’ve played against them plenty of times and watched them when I was smaller. I think we’ve played each other the most of any two teams in the competition and so there’s a good history between us and it’s always hugely difficult.

“We drew with them in the first game of the pool stages last year. It was a hot day and people gave us a bit of stick and wrote Castres off and they went on to be the Top 14 champions. We were happy to come out of there with a draw.

“Even the game in Thomond Park in round 6 (last January) was hugely close up to a certain point. There was a kind of stalemate and then Earlsy scored and it just gave us a little breathing space. But it was incredibly physical.

“Castres lost last weekend in the Top 14 (at home to Agen) and we know how passionate they are of their home records, and we know they’ll be hurting this week to come and put a performance in, and to make that right.”

Gates open at 11am and you can buy adult tickets from just €;20 and junior tickets from just €;10 online here. The Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park are open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You can also buy tickets by ringing 061 421103. The Thomond Park office will also open on Saturday from 10am to 4pm and will be open from 9am on Sunday.

MUNSTER (v Castres Olympique): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Ciaran Parker, Fineen Wycherley, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Sam Arnold.