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Ryan Slots Back In For Munster’s Away Clash With Saracens

Ryan Slots Back In For Munster’s Away Clash With Saracens

Munster prop John Ryan takes on Edinburgh's Pierre Schoeman during last season's Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

In the only change from last week’s hard-fought 10-3 win, prop John Ryan is brought into the Munster team for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup rematch against Saracens at Allianz Park (kick-off 3pm).

Ryan, who makes his 150th provincial appearance, replaces Stephen Archer on the tighthead side of the scrum. Elsewhere, Johann van Graan has backed the winning formula from the tightly-contested third round tie at a wind and rain-lashed Thomond Park.

JJ Hanrahan and Conor Murray lead an international-packed back-line, with the in-form Mike Haley, Andrew Conway and Keith Earls featuring again in a pacy back-three. Chris Farrell and Rory Scannell continue their ever-present centre partnership in Europe so far this season.

Supporting Ryan, James Cronin and Niall Scannell in the front row are locks Jean Kleyn and Billy Holland, the experienced Corkman having first played against Saracens in a pre-season match over twelve years ago.

CJ Stander, the man-of-the-match last Saturday evening, combines with Tadhg Beirne and captain Peter O’Mahony in the back row, while the Munster coaches have gone with a six-two split on the bench in anticipated of another forwards-dominated fixture.

Dan Goggin and Tommy O’Donnell have been drafted into the matchday 23, with Goggin set to make his 50th Munster appearance. Reserve scrum half Nick McCarthy is in line to make his first Champions Cup appearance for Munster.

After three rounds of Champions Cup action, Munster lie second in Pool 4 on 11 points with Racing 92 top on 12 and Saracens third with six points. Sarries have only be beaten twice before in both round three and four matches, losing to Cardiff Blues in 2000/01 and Clermont Auvergne in 2017/18.

Munster head coach van Graan commented: “It’s a massive challenge ahead. We are playing against the very best team in Europe currently. They’ve got so much quality within their squad and what they do.

“I think both teams couldn’t really show everything they had last weekend, because you only had 40 minutes to do what you wanted with ball in hand, just because of the conditions in the second half.

“A lot of times you can’t say, ‘it doesn’t get bigger than this’, but in terms of European rugby, going to London on Saturday afternoon against Saracens, they’re currently the best, so (we’re) looking forward to seeing where we are.”

MUNSTER (v Saracens): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (capt), CJ Stander.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Nick McCarthy, Dan Goggin, Tommy O’Donnell.