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Stander Captains Munster On His 50th Champions Cup Appearance

Stander Captains Munster On His 50th Champions Cup Appearance

CJ Stander will take the captaincy reins when Munster resume their European campaign at home to Toulouse ©INPHO/Gary Carr

Munster have made three changes to their pack, including the replacing of injured captain Peter O’Mahony, for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup date with Toulouse at Thomond Park (kick-off 3pm).

CJ Stander will skipper the side in the absence of O’Mahony, who sustained a thigh laceration during last week’s Guinness PRO14 final defeat to Leinster.

Alongside Stander who will make his 50th Champions Cup appearance, the round of 16 match sees Jack O’Donoghue slot in at openside with Gavin Coombes in the other flanker berth.

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Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer swap in as the starting props, either side of Niall Scannell, while Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne continue together in the engine room.

There are two changes to the Munster back-line from their most recent European outing, that unforgettable comeback victory away to Clermont Auvergne back in December.

Andrew Conway and Joey Carbery are back in as starters, featuring on the left wing and at out-half, with Mike Haley and Keith Earls completing the back-three.

Johann van Graan’s men will need another big showing from centre duo Chris Farrell and Damian de Allende, along with scrum half Conor Murray who is a survivor from the 2014 quarter-final win over Toulouse.

Fineen Wycherley has recovered from a neck injury to be included among the replacements, while Chris Cloete, the Turnover King award winner in the PRO14 this season, also makes the matchday 23.

Eager to bounce back from the PRO14 final loss, hooker Scannell said: “It does help that we did play against Leinster last week and you’re playing against an all-international front row, and I think Toulouse have an all-international front row off the bench as well.

“So we’ve got to that standard last week and we’ve just got to do it again and replicate it. There will be minute changes in terms of technique and things like that. It’s going to be a huge challenge but it’s something I’m looking forward to.

“I’ve never played, for example, against (Toulouse hooker) Julien Marchand and that’s a guy that you want to test yourself against and see where you’re at.

“These are the challenges you want as a front row. People probably think there’s a fear factor but there’s nothing better than going after a pack that’s bigger than you and coming out the other side of it, so that’s a challenge for us because they are physically a lot bigger.

“That’s what we’re relishing this week and that’s why I think it’s great we got tucked into some physical stuff, you know, scrums, mauls. It’s definitely going to be an exciting week.”

MUNSTER (v Toulouse): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Gavin Coombes, Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander (capt).

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Fineen Wycherley, Craig Casey, JJ Hanrahan, Chris Cloete.