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Healy In At Out-Half As Munster Make Five Changes

Healy In At Out-Half As Munster Make Five Changes

Tipperary youngster Ben Healy lines up a place-kick earlier in the season for Munster ©INPHO/Ashley Crowden

The Munster team has been announced for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup encounter with Castres Olympique at Thomond Park (kick-off 8pm). Tickets are only available online here.

There are five changes to the youthful side that secured a memorable 35-14 bonus point win over Wasps in Coventry last Sunday afternoon.

With Joey Carbery undergoing surgery yesterday on his fractured elbow, Ben Healy comes in at out-half for his first Champions Cup start after two previous appearances off the bench.

Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn and Jack O’Donoghue, who packs down at number 8, will bolster the pack with their experience.

19-year-old Greencore Munster Rugby Academy full-back Patrick Campbell keeps his place in the starting XV, while there are five players set for their European debuts off the bench.

Hooker Diarmuid Barron, prop Keynan Knox, out-half Jack Crowley and Academy back rower Alex Kendellen, the Ireland Under-20 captain last season, are all primed for their Champions Cup bows.

South African recruit Jason Jenkins is named in a Munster matchday squad for the first time. He is set for his debut after joining the province last summer.

Dave Kilcoyne, Scannell and Ryan form the front row, supported by Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne from the engine room. O’Donoghue, John Hodnett and captain Peter O’Mahony complete the pack.

Healy and Conor Murray lead a back-line that is otherwise unchanged. Chris Farrell and Damian de Allende continue in the centre, and Campbell has Keith Earls and Andrew Conway for company again in the back-three.

Earls scored his 22nd Champions Cup try last week and is now one try away from equalling Anthony Foley and Simon Zebo’s record of 23 Munster tries in the competition.

Munster v Castres is the most-played fixture in the Champions Cup with the sides facing each other for the 17th time on Saturday. Castres lost narrowly to Harlequins in the opening round.

Looking forward to another big European night in Limerick, head coach Johann van Graan said: “You’ve got to look at last weekend’s game in isolation. It was a very unique experience. Every week in sport is different.

“Now, it’s a six-day turnaround (to the Castres game), you’ve got staff coming back, you’ve got coaches coming back, you’ve got players coming back.

“We’ve got a mantra at Munster, ‘we rise by lifting each other’. And we certainly did last Sunday. Now it’s a new focus and we’ve had some spicy games against Castres if you think about our last one we played there, I think we lost 13-12.

“The previous one at Thomond Park was a brilliant rugby game. This will be an Irish-French affair and it will be spicy. It’s two teams that know each other very well in Europe.”

MUNSTER (v Castres Olympique): Patrick Campbell; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Keith Earls; Ben Healy, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (capt), John Hodnett, Jack O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Josh Wycherley, Keynan Knox, Jason Jenkins, Jack O’Sullivan, Craig Casey, Jack Crowley, Alex Kendellen.