Munster head coach Johann van Graan has selected a strong team for Saturday’s must-win GUINNESS PRO14 derby match against Connacht, Conference A’s third-placed side, at Thomond Park (kick-off 7.35pm).
There are four changes to the Munster starting XV that exited the Heineken Champions Cup in Coventry last Saturday at the hands of Saracens. A win in the final round of the Championship is vital if van Graan’s charges are to have any chance of topping Conference A and securing a home semi-final, ahead of current leaders Glasgow Warriors.
With Glasgow three points ahead, Munster must defeat Connacht and hope that other results go their way. A second place finish would see them host Benetton Rugby, Edinburgh or the Scarlets in a quarter-final at Thomond Park next Saturday (May 4) (kick-off 3pm). If they top the table, their reward would be a Limerick semi-final against either Connacht or Ulster on the weekend of May 17-19.
Dan Goggin, who was chosen as Munster’s Young Player of the Year earlier this week, Calvin Nash, Stephen Archer and Chris Cloete all come into the team. The 24-year-old Goggin partners Chris Farrell in the centre, while Nash, last season’s Academy Player of the Year, joins Mike Haley and Andrew Conway in the back-three.
Tyler Bleyendaal and Conor Murray, who kicked 11 points between them against Sarries, continue together at half-back, with Archer swapping in for John Ryan at tighthead prop. The rest of the pack is unchanged apart from South African flanker Cloete’s third start of the month in the number jersey.
Munster v Connacht tickets are available online here and from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices in Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park. You can buy tickets at the stadium from 1.35pm on Saturday from the Ticketmaster van in the Fanzone, which is located on the east side of the ground as you approach from Limerick city centre.
MUNSTER (v Connacht): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Calvin Nash; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Arno Botha, Neil Cronin, JJ Hanrahan, Sam Arnold.