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Carbery Back In Munster Team For Scarlets Tie

Carbery Back In Munster Team For Scarlets Tie

Ireland international Joey Carbery is pictured during Munster's pitch session in Limerick on Tuesday ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Joey Carbery will make his first start since January 2020 when Munster entertain the Scarlets in Friday’s Guinness PRO14 match at Thomond Park (kick-off 8pm).

Now guaranteed to finish top of Conference B and progress to the March 27 final, the Munster team shows seven changes from last week’s 20-17 derby win over Connacht.

Carbery’s inclusion at half-back, alongside Nick McCarthy, comes after he made two appearances off the bench since returning from long-term injury last month.

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There is a new-look centre partnership as Damian de Allende and JJ Hanrahan start together in midfield for the first time. Calvin Nash joins Mike Haley and Shane Daly in the back-three.

Behind an unchanged front row, Jean Kleyn’s selection at lock alongside captain Billy Holland sees Fineen Wycherley move to the blindside flanker berth.

Jack O’Sullivan will pack down at openside with Gavin Coombes at number 8. Providing back row cover on the bench is 20-year-old prospect Alex Kendellen who is poised for his senior debut.

There are two more Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players on the bench – lock Thomas Ahern, who has made four appearances so far this season, and out-half Jack Crowley, a debutant away to Ulster in January.

With a big European knockout game against Toulouse coming up after the PRO14 decider against Leinster, Munster senior coach Stephen Larkham said: “If you look at our cycle we’re not going past the final at this stage. It will literally be put everything into the final and we’ll move onto the next week after that.

“We’re prepping everything for that final and there will be no focus from coaches on the rounds after that until it’s finished. We can’t slip up now. We’ve certainly secured our spot and it’s comfortable to be in that situation.

“But we’ve prided ourselves on winning games this year, winning close games. We want that to continue. We’re not going to rest now between now and the final.”

The Australian added: “The ideal situation is definitely to build Joey’s minutes up each week. He’s a lot more confident but from his perspective, in order for him to get back to the player that he was he needs to now progress his minutes on the field.

“His challenge will be just trying to find that form, looking back at his old games where he played full 80-minute performances.

“Joey is influential throughout that 80 minutes and his challenge is making sure he’s fit enough that he can turn it on when he needs to.”

MUNSTER (v Scarlets): Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Damian de Allende, JJ Hanrahan, Shane Daly; Joey Carbery, Nick McCarthy; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland (capt), Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Sullivan, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, John Ryan, Thomas Ahern, Alex Kendellen, Paddy Patterson, Jack Crowley, Darren Sweetnam.