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Earls Set For Seasonal Debut For Munster In Ospreys Clash

Earls Set For Seasonal Debut For Munster In Ospreys Clash

Keith Earls is pictured during Munster's training session at the University of Limerick on Tuesday ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Head coach Johann van Graan has named the Munster team for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup opener away to Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium (kick-off 5.30pm). Tickets are available to buy online here.

There are five personnel changes to the side that defeated Ulster 22-16 in last weekend’s GUINNESS PRO14 derby encounter in Limerick.

The returning Keith Earls starts on his first Munster appearance of the campaign, with Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray, Jeremy Loughman and Tommy O’Donnell also coming into the starting XV.

Mike Haley starts again at full-back with Andrew Conway, who starred with a stunning match-winning try against the Ulstermen, and Earls on either flank.

Chris Farrell and Rory Scanell, last Saturday’s man-of-the-match at Thomond Park, continue their centre partnership with Bleyendaal and Murray paired together at half-back.

In the forwards, Loughman and Ireland internationals Niall Scannell and John Ryan form the front row. It will be a first Champions Cup start for 24-year-old loosehead Loughman.

Jean Kleyn and Billy Holland join forces in the engine room, while captain Peter O’Mahony, O’Donnell and CJ Stander are reunited in the loose forwards. Fellow international Tadhg Beirne is set for his seasonal bow off the bench.

Van Graan commented: “We said it at the previous game in Cork (when Munster defeated the Ospreys 28-12), this game has got nothing to do with previous form, in our opinion.

“It’s a new competition, it’s a different referee group from England, so everything is different. Different players, different mindsets, you know how teams look at this competition, so what happened before this game (on Saturday) doesn’t matter.


“It’s Munster versus the Ospreys in round one of Europe and it’s a game we’re looking forward to very much, and the only thing we can worry about is what happens on Saturday evening.

“We’ve got a very tough pool, everyone does, and we’re really looking forward to getting started with Ospreys away. Every minute of this competition is important, every point that you score, every point that you concede, so it’s great to be involved and we’re looking forward to it.”

MUNSTER (v Ospreys): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Tadhg Beirne, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, Sam Arnold, Dan Goggin.