The Munster team to face Connacht in Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 derby match at the Sportsground (kick-off 5.15pm) has been named by head coach Johann van Graan. Tickets are available to buy online here.
There are ten changes to the side that played Saracens last weekend, with four Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players included for the first of Munster’s festive derby clashes.
20-year-old Limerick native Craig Casey will makes his first GUINNESS PRO14 start at scrum half having previously featured twice off the bench, while Ireland international Dave Kilcoyne returns from a calf injury to start in the front row.
Academy winger Liam Coombes comes in for his fourth Championship appearance, lining out alongside his cousin Gavin Coombes, Munster’s blindside flanker in Galway, for the first time in a PRO14 fixture.
CJ Stander retains the number 8 jersey and the captaincy, with Chris Farrell, JJ Hanrahan, Jean Kleyn and Billy Holland also keeping their places in the starting XV following last week’s 15-6 defeat at Allianz Park.
Casey, Liam Coombes, Farrell and Hanrahan are joined in the back-line by Shane Daly, Calvin Nash and the 50-times capped Dan Goggin. The second row pairing of Kleyn and Holland is unchanged, and Kilcoyne slots in alongside Kevin O’Byrne and Stephen Archer in a freshened-up front row.
Chris Cloete gets the nod at openside and there are three Academy players on the bench who have all graced the PRO14 already this season. Diarmuid Barron and Keynan Knox will be hoping to make an impact in the forward exchanges, while reserve out-half Ben Healy could add to his 11-point haul from the recent Edinburgh game.
MUNSTER (v Connacht): Shane Daly; Calvin Nash, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Liam Coombes; JJ Hanrahan, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland, Gavin Coombes, Chris Cloete, CJ Stander (capt).
Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Keynan Knox, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Ben Healy, Sam Arnold.