Munster head coach Johann van Graan has named a strong team for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 derby encounter with Ulster at Thomond Park (kick-off 5.15pm).
Peter O’Mahony captains Munster with eight of the province’s Ireland Rugby World Cup contingent set to feature during the round 6 fixture. Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, O’Mahony and CJ Stander all start with Conor Murray on the bench.
JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson and Chris Cloete keep their starting places after helping Munster to a 33-23 bonus point win away to Cardiff Blues last week, as van Graan opts to make twelve personnel changes.
22-year-old Academy winger Liam Coombes makes his second Munster start with Mike Haley and Conway completing the back-three. The in-form pairing of Hanrahan and Mathewson continue at half-back with Farrell and Rory Scannell in the centre.
James Cronin, Scannell and Ryan pack down together in the front row with Kleyn and Billy Holland, who has captained the province in recent weeks, in the engine room. O’Mahony, Cloete and Stander are the starting loose forwards as Munster aim to make it five victories out of six in the Championship.
With tickets for Saturday’s interpro available to buy here, the Munster head coach said: “The returning players are raring to go. Pete (O’Mahony) came in and led from the front (on Monday) as our club captain. It’s great to have the likes of CJ, Conor, Andrew Conway, and many more back in.
“The PRO14 is pretty important. We’ve gone well over the first few rounds, and we’d like to keep that momentum. Secondly, it’s the first interpro of the year against Ulster, who have also gone very, very well.
“From a European point of view you’d like to get some continuity going into that first game (against the Ospreys next week), so we’ll make sure that we can prepare as well as we can with the limitations that we’ve had.”
MUNSTER (v Ulster): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Conor Murray, Tyler Bleyendaal, Arno Botha.