There are four changes to the Munster team selected to play Connacht in Friday’s BKT United Rugby Championship encounter at the Sportsground (kick-off 7.35pm).
Joey Carbery, Gavin Coombes, who is back to full fitness after a groin injury, and Conor Murray all start for the first time this season as Munster aim for back-to-back victories.
It will be Carbery’s first time to start at full-back in his Munster career. He is joined in the back-three by Greencore Munster Rugby Academy duo Conor Phillips and Patrick Campbell who keep their places on either wing.
Murray and Ben Healy form the half-back pairing, with Malakai Fekitoa, the former All Black and current Tongan international, and Dan Goggin continuing their centre partnership.
The front row of Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and Keynan Knox is unchanged, and Jean Kleyn, who has recovered from a head knock, comes in to partner Tadhg Beirne at lock.
Jack O’Donoghue, captain Peter O’Mahony and the returning Coombes complete the starting line-up. On the bench, Fionn Gibbons set to make his Munster debut and fellow Academy player Edwin Edogbo is in line for his third appearance of the season.
Gibbons can play in the centre and on the wing and was a Grand Slam winner with the Ireland Under-20s earlier this year. Mike Haley and Fineen Wycherley were unavailable after picking up knocks.
Commenting ahead of the Munstermen’s trip to Galway, attack coach Mike Prendergast said: “It’s a big occasion for Connacht with the opening of their 4G pitch, so I’m sure the place will be rocking on Friday night, and they’ll look at it as a good opportunity for them.
“If you look at the fixtures for them, the last few weeks have been challenging. They have had challenging games, but they’ve been away (in South Africa) together, which is a good thing at the start of a season, bringing people together for two weeks.
“We know it’ll be a big challenge. They’ll come out at 100%, gunning, and we will too. We’re disappointed, we know better than anyone that we came up short over the last number of weeks.
“There’s an element of bedding in new systems, but we know we need to get better, and that’s how we’re looking at this game, but we know it’ll be a big challenge.
“It’s our first one (interprovincial derby) of the year and the two teams will be looking for wins and performances given the position we’re both in.
“Being an interprovincial game, there’s more in it as well. For me and the players, we spoke about how important that is during the week.”
MUNSTER (v Connacht): Joey Carbery; Conor Phillips, Malakai Fekitoa, Dan Goggin, Patrick Campbell; Ben Healy, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Keynan Knox, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Jack O’Donoghue, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Scott Buckley, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Edwin Edogbo, Jack O’Sullivan, Craig Casey, Rory Scannell, Fionn Gibbons.