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O’Mahony Back To Lead Munster For Trip To Newport

O’Mahony Back To Lead Munster For Trip To Newport

Munster captain Peter O'Mahony is pictured during a training session on the UL 4G pitch last month ©INPHO/Ben Brady

The Munster team has been selected for Sunday’s BKT United Rugby Championship encounter with the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

There are eight changes to the side that lost 20-13 to Cardiff last weekend, with four members of the Ireland squad that secured a historic series win over New Zealand featuring in the matchday 23.

Tadhg Beirne and Joey Carbery are on the replacements bench, while Peter O’Mahony returns to captain the province in Newport and Keith Earls makes his seasonal debut on the right wing.

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Mike Haley and Simon Zebo compete a potent-looking back-three, and a new midfield combination sees former All Black Malakai Fekitoa move to outside centre to accommodate Dan Goggin.

Lining out with Ben Healy at half-back, Craig Casey comes in for his first appearance of the new campaign, and there is a first start since last February for fit-again prop Dave Kilcoyne.

Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn and Fineen Wycherley complete the tight five, with O’Mahony the lone change to a back row that includes Jack O’Donoghue and Jack O’Sullivan, Munster’s only try scorer from the opening game.

Greencore Munster Rugby Academy lock Edwin Edogbo, who hails from Cobh and only turns 20 in December, is named among the replacements and is set for his competitive debut.

Returning Ireland internationals Beirne and Carbery add experience to the bench, which could be an important factor as Munster chase their ninth victory in as many games against the Dragons. They are unbeaten in this match-up since December 2015.

Speaking this week about his move up the ranks to become Munster’s forwards coach, Andi Kyriacou said: “We’ve got a very good relationship from last year and ‘Wig’ (Graham Rowntree) has given me the freedom to go and do what I want to do, which is great.

“It’s nice to have that trust. We talk a lot, it’s very open and we all want this Munster pack to move on and move forward, get that fear factor about it again.

“Because things are new to the lads, and we are training in a completely different way, there is going to be an adaptation period. It’s on all of us, players and coaches, to try and accelerate that as much as we can.

“It might take a period of time, we don’t know how long that will be, but we just keep going after our performance in training and improving that.

“Then that transfer from the on-field training in the week to the weekend against whoever we are playing. We are prepping well. So, we just keep going after those performances.”

MUNSTER (v Dragons): Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Malakai Fekitoa, Dan Goggin, Simon Zebo; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Scott Buckley, Liam O’Connor, Keynan Knox, Edwin Edogbo, Tadhg Beirne, Paddy Patterson, Joey Carbery, Liam Coombes.