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Lions Duo Included For Munster’s Clash With Ulster

Lions Duo Included For Munster’s Clash With Ulster

Munster's Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray will play for the first time since their selection for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Munster’s two 2021 British & Irish Lions picks, Conor Murray and Tadhg Beirne, will feature against Ulster in Friday’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup derby at Thomond Park (kick-off 8.15pm).

With the Reds eager to build on their recent victory at Leinster, Dan Goggin starts on his first appearance since sustaining a hand injury against Benetton Rugby in January.

Goggin, Andrew Conway, Rory Scannell and JJ Hanrahan come into the back-line, while John Ryan, Fineen Wycherley, Chris Cloete and Gavin Coombes join the pack.

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Murray, who is set for his third Lions tour, leads the back-line alongside Hanrahan, with Goggin and Scannell teaming up in midfield, and Conway joins full-back Mike Haley and Shane Daly in the back-three.

Versatile pair Beirne and Wycherley combine at lock, behind an all-international front row trio of Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, who turned 29 last month, and Ryan.

Captain Peter O’Mahony, Cloete and Coombes complete the starting XV, with the latter, who will pack down at number 8, chasing his fourth try in five games.

Academy out-half Ben Healy, who has made 15 senior appearances so far this season, is among the replacements with prop Jeremy Loughman poised to make his 50th Munster appearance.

Referencing the long-awaited success against Leinster at the RDS, defence coach JP Ferreira commented: “Seriously, it’s brilliant, it gives confidence to the side. The way we went about it, the way the players conducted themselves and we always knew it’s in us, so getting one over them, especially up in the RDS, is especially great,

“It changes mindsets, it changes personal goals, and it’s a turning point. That’s what we’re on about this weekend again.

“We’ve had a week off, we know we have another opportunity to do exactly the same. So our mindset doesn’t change. Nothing changes.”

He added: “Well we can only prep for their (Ulster’s) strongest side. They are there where we were after we got knocked out (of Europe) in the round of 16, so they’re there mentally.

“It’s just what their coaches are thinking, what Dan McFarland’s thinking on his selection but we’re prepping for their best side available to play us on the weekend.”

MUNSTER (v Ulster): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Fineen Wycherley, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Roman Salanoa, Jean Kleyn, CJ Stander, Nick McCarthy, Ben Healy, Damian de Allende.