Simon Zebo returns to competitive action for Munster – for the first time since May 2018 – as they entertain Cell C Sharks at Thomond Park (kick-off 7.35pm).
Zebo’s second stint with his home province begins in earnest with Saturday’s United Rugby Championship opener, a game which should see RG Snyman play in Limerick for the first time.
Tickets are only available online here. Tickets will be available to purchase online right up to kick-off but will not be available to purchase at Thomond on matchday.
Eight of Munster’s Ireland internationals who featured in the Vodafone Summer Series, including captain Peter O’Mahony, are primed to start.
Zebo, the province’s record try scorer, features on the left wing with Mike Haley and Andrew Conway completing a potent-looking back-three.
With Chris Farrell nursing an abdominal injury, Dan Goggin will partner Rory Scannell in midfield. Joey Carbery, who finished last season with 65 points, and Craig Casey fill the half-back slots.
Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan pack down together in the front row, supported by Jean Kleyn and the 23-year-old Fineen Wycherley from the engine room.
Indeed, it is the same starting pack that closed out the Rainbow Cup against Zebre in June, as O’Mahony, Jack O’Donoghue and Gavin Coombes, last season’s Player of the Year, round out the starting XV.
South African Snyman is itching for his first involvement since his ill-fated debut against Leinster in August 2020 when he tore his ACL.
Like Snyman, former Leinster scrum half Rowan Osborne is also set to play his first game for Munster at Thomond, on what will be his competitive debut for the Reds.
Head coach Johann van Graan commented: “What we’ll find with the United Rugby Championship is it is going to be competitive. There’s no perceived easy games.
“There’s not a lot of games where you can put in a perceived second-string team – this is going to be a battle week in, week out.
“It doesn’t matter which draw you have, with Leinster playing the Bulls or Zebre playing the Lions ,it is going to be more competitive and that’s brilliant to have as a competition.
“It’s eight rounds of the competition, you’ll get ups and downs during the season and our focus is only on this first block of five games, specifically the first one.”
MUNSTER (v Cell C Sharks): Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Jack O’Donoghue, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Keynan Knox, RG Snyman, Thomas Ahern, Rowan Osborne, Ben Healy, Chris Cloete.