There are four changes to the Munster team to play arch rivals Leinster in Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 semi-final clash at the RDS (kick-off 2.30pm).
Johann van Graan’s men, who finished second in Conference A, go into the interprovincial derby having won 17 of their 22 PRO14 matches so far this season, scoring an average of just under four tries per game.
Ireland stars Keith Earls and Joey Carbery are back in the starting XV having returned to full training this week following their respective thigh and hamstring injuries. John Ryan and Arno Botha also start, the latter coming in at number 8.
Earls, whose thigh strain has kept him out since early April, rejoins Mike Haley and Andrew Conway in the back-three, with Chris Farrell and Rory Scannell continuing in midfield and Carbery reunited with Conor Murray at half-back.
South African Botha is selected at the base of the scrum with CJ Stander shifting to openside flanker. Peter O’Mahony captains the province from the blindside, with fellow back rower Jack O’Donoghue poised to make his 100th Munster appearance off the bench.
The tight five has a familiar look to it as Ryan and Dave Kilcoyne combine with Niall Scannell in the front row, and the lock berths are filled by Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne, the man-of-the-match in Munster’s 26-17 home win over Leinster in December.
Carbery also impressed during that game and he is looking forward to facing his former provincial team-mates once again, saying: “Some of them would be really good mates of mine, but at the end of the day I’ve got to go out and do my job and I’m doing it for the side I want to be doing it for.
“It’s hugely exciting. Playing in the semi-final of the PRO14 is huge – it doesn’t come around every day. I am really looking forward to it, to be honest. It will be weird being in the other dressing room (at the RDS) but no, I can’t wait to get out there.
“It’s been a frustrating couple of months. Hammies are quite niggly and so there were stages when I was going good, then going bad, and it was hard to call. I made a pact with the physios that I wouldn’t play until I was 100%. So I’ve been training the last couple of weeks and it feels pretty good.”
MUNSTER (v Leinster): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (capt), CJ Stander, Arno Botha.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Jack O’Donoghue, Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Dan Goggin.