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O’Donnell To Captain Munster Against Southern Kings

O’Donnell To Captain Munster Against Southern Kings

Tipperary man Tommy O'Donnell is pictured on the attack during Munster's 39-9 bonus point win at home to the Dragons last Saturday ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Munster head coach Johann van Graan has announced his team to face the Isuzu Southern Kings in the second round of the GUINNESS PRO14 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 4pm local time/3pm Irish time).

There are four changes to the side that defeated the Dragons 39-9 in last week’s Championship opener at Thomond Park, with Liam O’Connor, Darren O’Shea, Alby Mathewson and Dan Goggin all coming into the starting XV.

Munster have won all six games they have played against the Kings and the Toyota Cheetahs since the PRO12 became the PRO14. They are missing 12 players due to the Rugby World Cup but have taken a strong squad to South Africa, including young Academy front rowers Diarmuid Barron and Keynan Knox.

Knox’s prop colleague O’Connor, the 24-year-old Cork-born loosehead, joins the in-form Kevin O’Byrne and Stephen Archer in the front row, while O’Shea, who appeared off the bench during the opening round, partners Fineen Wycherley in the engine room.

Tommy O’Donnell takes over the captaincy from the benched Billy Holland, featuring in an unchanged back row with Jack O’Donoghue and South African number 8 Arno Botha, who now has three PRO14 tries to his name.

New Zealander Mathewson joins JJ Hanrahan at half-back, and with Rory Scannell switching to the inside centre position, Goggin, Munster’s 2018/19 Young Player of the Year, comes in at outside centre in an otherwise unchanged back-line.

Munster’s selected bench has a six-two forwards-backs split – flanker Chris Cloete will wear the number 23 shirt – as Barron, the scorer of the province’s final try against the Dragons, stands by for more game-time in the front row, and Australian short-term signing Jed Holloway is in line to make his PRO14 debut.

MUNSTER (v Isuzu Southern Kings): Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson; Liam O’Connor, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer, Darren O’Shea, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Tommy O’Donnell (capt), Arno Botha.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, James Cronin, Jeremy Loughman, Jed Holloway, Billy Holland, Neil Cronin, Tyler Bleyendaal, Chris  Cloete.