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Munster Make Five Changes Up Front For Leinster Match

Munster Make Five Changes Up Front For Leinster Match

Munster Academy graduate Tom Ahern is pictured in action during last Saturday's bonus point win over the Vodacom Bulls at Thomond Park ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Jack O’Donoghue, Diarmuid Barron, Keynan Knox, Tom Ahern and John Hodnett all come into the pack for Munster’s BKT United Rugby Championship derby duel with Leinster on Saturday.

O’Donoghue will captain the province from the blindside flanker berth, as Peter O’Mahony did not come through training due to a neck complaint. He will join the Ireland squad next week.

For the round 6 interprovincial fixture at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm), Tadhg Beirne (groin), Craig Casey (groin), Edwin Edogbo (calf), Roman Salanoa (head injury), Stephen Archer (ankle), Calvin Nash (thigh) and Antoine Frisch (calf) are also marked absent.

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There are eight personnel changes to the side that beat the Vodacom Bulls 31-17 last Saturday, along with two positional switches.

After a lively cameo off the bench in the last round, Ireland ‘A’ call-up Jack Crowley will start in the full-back position for the first time. Shane Daly and Liam Coombes line out on either wing.

Ireland internationals Joey Carbery and Conor Murray lead the back-line, with Rory Scannell coming in for his first start of the 2022/23 campaign in midfield alongside Dan Goggin.

Jeremy Loughman, one of last week’s try scorers against the Bulls, is joined in the front row by Barron and Knox, while Ahern, another player making his first start of the URC run, packs down with Jean Kleyn at lock.

Gavin Coombes, whose Munster try tally now stands at 23 in 53 appearances, continues at number 8 with the injured Beirne and O’Mahony replaced in the flanker roles by O’Donoghue and Hodnett respectively.

Commenting on Munster’s motivation heading up to Dublin, second row Kleyn said: “It is one of the biggest challenges but you know beating Leinster at home is something we all want to do so, look, we’re going to go out and do our best to impose our game and play our best and after that, we’ll see what happens.

“Leinster in the Aviva, it’s one of the most exciting fixtures to play and the prospect of coming out and putting a performance in like we did against the Bulls makes you really looking forward to it and look forward to the potential of what we can produce.

“Coming home with the win there, will drastically shift what the log looks like. So for us as a team, the Bulls game, this week against Leinster and next week against Ulster are massive weeks for us because they are three of the top teams.

“If we could knock them down a few points each and bring ourselves up, the log starts looking drastically different. All of a sudden our season doesn’t look the way it looked literally seven days ago.”

Prop James French is included among the replacements and is in line to make his second senior appearance for Munster. Greencore Munster Rugby Academy duo Ruadhan Quinn and Patrick Campbell are also bench options.

MUNSTER (v Leinster): Jack Crowley; Shane Daly, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Keynan Knox, Jean Kleyn, Tom Ahern, Jack O’Donoghue (capt), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Scott Buckley, Dave Kilcoyne, James French, Jack O’Sullivan, Ruadhan Quinn, Paddy Patterson, Ben Healy, Patrick Campbell.