The Munster team to face Racing 92 in the Heineken Champions Cup at Thomond Park on Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm) has been named by head coach Johann van Graan. Tickets are available to buy online here.
There are three changes to the side that defeated the Ospreys 32-13 last weekend, earning a last-gasp bonus point in Swansea, as JJ Hanrahan, Tadhg Beirne and Jack O’Donoghue all come back into the starting XV.
Hanrahan’s inclusion at out-half comes with the unavailable Tyler Bleyendaal reporting stiffness this week. Mike Haley, Andrew Conway and Keith Earls combine again in the back-three, Conor Murray teams up with Hanrahan, and Chris Farrell and Rory Scannell continue their centre partnership.
Jeremy Loughman, who was the man-of-the-match last Saturday evening, Niall Scannell and John Ryan pack down together in the front row, while Beirne is promoted from the bench to partner fellow Ireland international Jean Kleyn in the engine room.
O’Donoghue takes over from Tommy O’Donnell at openside flanker, rejoining captain Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander in the back row. Meanwhile, Kiwi scrum half Alby Mathewson features among the replacements and is set to play his last game for the province.
Looking forward to the second round showdown, Beirne said: “You look at Racing’s record in Europe the last few years – two finals in four years? So they seem to turn it on for sure when they come to Europe. It’s probably something they definitely strive for, to win Europe, so they’ll have a massive focus on this (game).
“Champions Cup is the biggest stage for club rugby so it’s massively exciting for Munster, massively exciting to be part of that. There’s no point in dwelling on the past, being in Japan, because once you come in here your only focus is Munster.
“We started off really well last week, getting the bonus point. We’ll definitely look to continue that. Home games are always crucial in Europe, and especially now. It’s going to be huge to get the victory.”
MUNSTER (v Racing 92): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Fineen Wycherley, Alby Mathewson, Dan Goggin, Arno Botha.