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Prop Wycherley Handed First Cup Start Against Clermont

Prop Wycherley Handed First Cup Start Against Clermont

Josh Wycherley feeds on a lineout call to Rhys Marshall during Munster's first round triumph over Harlequins last Sunday ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Josh Wycherley and Shane Daly are two notable additions to the Munster team for Saturday’s crunch Heineken Champions Cup match against Clermont Auvergne at Stade Marcel Michelin (kick-off 6.30pm local time/5.30pm Irish time).

Wycherley, the promising 21-year-old Academy prop, comes in for his first European start in one of three changes to the side. James Cronin misses out due to an injury sustained in training.

The second front row change sees Rhys Marshall slot in at hooker alongside tighthead Stephen Archer. Tadhg Beirne, last week’s Heineken star-of-the-match against Harlequins, and Jean Kleyn pair up again at lock.

There is continuity in the back row, at half-back and in the centre, with the in-form Gavin Coombes, captain Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander packing down together in the loose forwards.

JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray, Damian de Allende and Chris Farrell will shoulder a good deal of responsibility in the back-line, while new Ireland cap Shane Daly makes his return in Munster red.

Daly’s first provincial appearance of the season comes on the left wing and he is supported in the back-three by full-back Mike Haley and Keith Earls. Andrew Conway is unavailable this week due to personal reasons.

Ahead of tomorrow’s mouth-watering Pool B showdown, Munster boss Johann van Graan said: “It’s brilliant to be a part of the Champions Cup. With the Champions Cup comes massive games and Munster versus Clermont is a massive game.

“Playing Clermont in their own backyard in France is a great challenge and one that we’re looking forward to very much.

“It’s a brilliant opportunity for Josh Wycherley on his first European start. He has performed well for us this season and he is more than ready for this opportunity.”

MUNSTER (v Clermont Auvergne): Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; Josh Wycherley, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Gavin Coombes, Peter O’Mahony (capt), CJ Stander.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, John Ryan, Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland, Craig Casey, Rory Scannell, Jack O’Donoghue.