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Rainbow Cup Return For Munster Captain O’Mahony

Rainbow Cup Return For Munster Captain O’Mahony

Munster captain Peter O'Mahony drives forward during their Guinness PRO14 final clash with Leinster last month ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Returning from a thigh injury, Peter O’Mahony is back to captain Munster for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup opener against Leinster at the RDS (kick-off 7.35pm).

Fellow Corkman Shane Daly also slots into the starting XV, while the seven squad changes from the recent Toulouse defeat are completed by five freshly-introduced replacements.

Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Keynan Knox, Ben Healy and Calvin Nash have all been added to the bench.

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Daly joins Mike Haley and Keith Earls in the back-three, and the rest of the province’s back-line is made up of the familiar combinations of Chris Farrell and Damian de Allende in the centre, and Joey Carbery and Conor Murray at half-back.

Notably, Earls is one try away from equalling Simon Zebo’s Munster record of 60 tries. The pair will be provincial team-mates again next season with Zebo returning home from Racing 92.

Johann van Graan’s men make the return trip to Dublin – a month on from their PRO14 final defeat to Leinster – with a strong pack, led by the fit-again O’Mahony.

He is backed up in the loose forwards by Jack O’Donoghue and the retiring CJ Stander. Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer make up the front row, ably supported by locks Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne.

Looking forward to pulling the red jersey on again, O’Mahony said: “Look, guys know the recent record (six straight defeats for Munster against Leinster). I don’t need to spell it out for them.

“It’s great to be challenging yourself this regularly against a team like them but we need to win. For lots of reasons, we need to win.

“And that hasn’t changed the last three or four times that we’ve been beaten by them, we’ve said the same thing. So it’s just up to us to figure out a way.

“Again, you’re playing a very, very good side, which is great, it’s making us better every time. But obviously we’re not sitting here to be on the losing side, we want to win. So that’s the focus.”

On his injury from last month’s PRO14 final loss to Leinster, he added: “You get a graze off it (thigh) at an angle, I just got a straight on, rather than a cut.

“It cut through my leg and I think the problem was there was a chance of an infection as the cut was quite bad. So I spent a couple of nights in hospital and didn’t train with the team enough.

“I was quite sore to be honest with you and unfortunately I couldn’t take the field with the lads.”

MUNSTER (v Leinster): Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Shane Daly; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Keynan Knox, Fineen Wycherley, Gavin Coombes, Craig Casey, Ben Healy, Calvin Nash.