Munster head coach Johann van Graan has made nine changes to the team for Monday night’s Guinness PRO14 game against Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park (kick-off 8.15pm).
Billy Holland comes in for his first appearance of the new season, captaining the province from the second row alongside Fineen Wycherley, who trained with the Ireland squad last week during their Guinness Six Nations preparations.
Munster will field an all-changed front row of James Cronin, Kevin O’Byrne and Stephen Archer, while Jack O’Donoghue is joined in the loose forwards by number 8 Gavin Coombes and the Academy’s John Hodnett.
Another Academy starlet, Ben Healy, and Craig Casey continue together at half-back, with Dan Goggin getting his first start in midfield since last February, lining out alongside Rory Scannell.
There is a seasonal debut on the right wing for Calvin Nash, who represented the province at last week’s IRFU Academy 7s tournament. Darren Sweetnam and full-back Mike Haley complete the back-three.
21-year-old Academy prop Josh Wycherley is in line to make his Munster senior debut should he be introduced off the bench. The younger brother of Fineen, he is one of five west Cork representatives in the matchday 23.
The 22-year-old Fineen commented: “Cardiff are an excellent side. They are much improved from last year, top of the Conference obviously. Defensively, they are exceptional. They have only conceded one try this season so far, so I think breakdown-wise we are going to be tested there which is great.
“They have a nice balance between the forwards and backs. To be honest, they have a very rounded game so we will be looking at a very tough match on Monday night.”
There have been 23 previous Monday fixtures in the history of the Guinness PRO14 but all were played over the Christmas and New Year period.
MUNSTER (v Cardiff Blues): Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; James Cronin, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland (capt), Jack O’Donoghue, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Josh Wycherley, Roman Salanoa, Jean Kleyn, Chris Cloete, Nick McCarthy, JJ Hanrahan, Damian de Allende.