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Carbery Is Munster’s Only Change For Castres Rematch

Carbery Is Munster’s Only Change For Castres Rematch

The Munster team has been announced for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup round 4 trip to reigning French champions Castres Olympique at Stade Pierre-Fabre (kick-off 6.30pm local time/5.30pm Irish time).

Head coach Johann van Graan has made one change to the side that defeated Castres 30-5 at Thomond Park last Sunday, with Joey Carbery, who has shaken off a tight hamstring, coming in at out-half to replace JJ Hanrahan, the man-of-the-match from the first game.

Conor Murray is set to make his 120th senior appearance for Munster, starting with Carbery at half-back for the first time at provincial level. Mike Haley, Andrew Conway and Keith Earls make up an unchanged back-three and Sam Arnold and Rory Scannell continue together in midfield.

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Fellow Ireland-capped centre Chris Farrell, who was a late withdrawal before kick-off in round 3, has been asessed by the Munster medical team and is undergoing treatment for the quad muscle strain that ruled him out last weekend. 

The province’s tight five are unchanged once again with Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan in the front row, and Tadhg Beirne, who was nominated for the EPCR European Player of the Year award last season, and Billy Holland pairing up in the engine room.

Peter O’Mahony captains the Pool 2 leaders from the back row with Chris Cloete and number 8 CJ Stander completing the starting line-up. Prop Stephen Archer is included among the replacements after missing out last week through illness.

Ahead of the game in France, Johann van Graan said: “There’s a lot of improvement needed for the weekend. You don’t just go to France and get a victory. It’s the French champions in Castres. It’ll be a massive challenge for us but we’re looking forward to it. We said we’re going to enjoy this week. That’s what these double headers in Europe are about.

“We can only control what we can. We’re sitting in a good spot in our pool. We can’t control their mindset, the only thing we can control is ours. It’s going to be a fierce battle, make no mistake about that. We’ll get the bodies and the minds afresh and ready to go for Saturday.

“The scoreboard might not have said it but that was a fierce battle (at Thomond Park). You could see it in the kinds of knocks afterwards. We’ve got only one task at hand, and that’s to go to Castres and put in a very good performance. We’re under no illusions about what it’s going to take to go there and get a win.”

MUNSTER (v Castres Olympique): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Sam Arnold, 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, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Jaco Taute.