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Kilcoyne And Hodnett Set To Return For Munster After Injury Lay-Offs

Kilcoyne And Hodnett Set To Return For Munster After Injury Lay-Offs

Back rower John Hodnett is pictured training with the Munster squad at the University of Limerick last season ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The Munster team has been named for the province’s opening BKT United Rugby Championship match against Cardiff at the Arms Park on Saturday (kick-off 3.05pm).

The game will see head coach Graham Rowntree and the new coaching team take charge of Munster in a competitive fixture for the first time.

Malakai Fekitoa will make his competitive Munster debut after his summer move to the province, with the Rugby World Cup winner having featured in both pre-season games against Gloucester and London Irish.

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Shane Daly, one of the province’s representatives in the Emerging Ireland squad, starts at full-back with Calvin Nash and Liam Coombes on the wings. Fekitoa, the former All Black and current Tongan international, and Chris Farrell form the centre partnership.

Scrum half Paddy Patterson makes his second Munster start – and eighth appearance in all – with Tipperary youngster Ben Healy (23) outside him at number 10.

Josh Wycherley, Niall Scannell and Keynan Knox pack down in the front row, supported by Jean Kleyn and Fineen Wycherley in the engine room, and captain Jack O’Donoghue, Alex Kendellen and Jack O’Sullivan complete the starting XV.

Young loosehead Wycherley, who has also earned an Emerging Ireland call-up, commented: “A fresh season, you want to push on and obviously there is nothing guaranteed so you have to prove yourself again and push yourself into the team.

“So it’s exciting, it brings new competition, pushes everybody on from the start and it’s brilliant, I think, for the team.

“I think we’re probably just training a bit faster (with the new coaches), training at a bit of a different tempo than we were.

“I’m not saying whether that was a bad thing or a good thing, but I’m just really enjoying it. I’m enjoying the pace of it and enjoying the way we’re playing at the moment.

“I think we’re just going to take it week by week and just try get better every week. That’s kind of our main goal. Just keep pushing on every week to be competitive at the very end of the season and go from there.

“For now it’s just about sticking to the process every week and building on each week. There hasn’t been much talk about the end of the season (and challenging for titles). It’s about now, really, and pushing on now.”

Ireland prop Dave Kilcoyne is included among the replacements and in line to make his first Munster appearance since February after recovering from a neck injury.

John Hodnett takes his place in the squad for the first time since April as he returns from a knee injury. Stephen Archer, Mike Haley and Simon Zebo were all unavailable for selection this week.

Prop Archer is recovering from a knock, Haley reported stiffness this week, and Zebo misses out on the opening round of the Championship due to illness.

MUNSTER (v Cardiff): Shane Daly; Calvin Nash, Chris Farrell, Malakai Fekitoa, Liam Coombes; Ben Healy, Paddy Patterson; Josh Wycherley, Niall Scannell, Keynan Knox, Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue (capt), Alex Kendellen, Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Dave Kilcoyne, Roman Salanoa, Tom Ahern, John Hodnett, Neil Cronin, Jack Crowley, Rory Scannell.