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Marshall And Ryan Are Munster’s Two Changes

Marshall And Ryan Are Munster’s Two Changes

Munster prop John Ryan is pictured in interprovincial action against Ulster earlier this month ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Making two changes from their recent win over Connacht, Munster head coach Johann van Graan has finalised his team for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 derby showdown with Leinster at Thomond Park (kick-off 7.35pm).

Rhys Marshall and John Ryan come into the front row as the only alterations, with CJ Stander, Mike Haley and replacement Jack O’Donoghue all set to make landmark appearances for the province.

Already their most-capped overseas signing, Stander will run out for the 150th time for Munster at senior level.

Haley will make his 50th appearance for the province at full-back, while the fit-again O’Donoghue, who has 128 Munster caps to his name, is set to play his 100th PRO14 game.

Loosehead James Cronin completes a front row which is supported by Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne, the player-of-the-match in Galway, from the engine room.

Gavin Coombes, who is chasing his eighth try of the season, continues in the number 6 jersey, and the back row is rounded off by Stander and captain Peter O’Mahony.

There is a settled look to Munster’s back-line also, with JJ Hanrahan and Conor Murray at half-back and the powerful combination of Damian de Allende and Chris Farrell in the centre.

Alongside Haley in the back-three will be Keith Earls and Shane Daly, as van Graan’s charges, who hold an 11-point lead at the top of Conference B, look to rack up their 11th win in 12 games.

Referencing last August’s memorable clash with their arch rivals which ended in a 27-25 Leinster victory, South African star de Allende said: “There was quite a hype up to that weekend. I don’t want to get hyped that much before games and I think that was quite a real shock to me.

“But I think the way that we’ve been going forward now, you need to enjoy yourself. I know the Leinster game is massive but I think if we can get into the right mindset of it’s just another game – it’s another game to get better, it’s another game to what we are trying to achieve and just keep ticking the boxes.

“Obviously we have our goals set and it won’t help us or it won’t benefit us, especially this weekend, if we make the occasion too big and we forget how to play rugby and we forget what we’re trying to achieve.

“It’s going to be brutal. Our bodies are going to be very sore in the game and after the game but it’s just another game of rugby. For us, it’s another chance to get better and what a great opportunity to play against the champions.”

MUNSTER (v Leinster): Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Gavin Coombes, Peter O’Mahony (capt), CJ Stander.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Craig Casey, Ben Healy, Rory Scannell.