Ireland internationals Craig Casey and Jack Crowley return to provincial duty as Munster make seven changes for Saturday’s BKT United Rugby Championship date with the Dragons at Musgrave Park (kick-off 5.15pm). Tickets are available here.
Joey Carbery is set for a spell on the sidelines after undergoing a scan on the wrist injury he sustained in Treviso last weekend. He will visit a specialist for surgery next week.
Carbery’s place at out-half is taken by 21-year-old Academy starlet Tony Butler, who makes his first competitive start alongside Casey. Summer additions Alex Nankivell and Sean O’Brien also come in for their full debuts, at outside centre and on the right wing respectively.
Shane Daly and Calvin Nash complete the back-three, while Rory Scannell forms a new midfield combination with New Zealander Nankivell, who was sprung from the bench against both the Hollywoodbets Sharks and Benetton.
Head coach Graham Rowntree has opted for three changes to the pack, with tighthead prop John Ryan making his first start since returning from the Chiefs. In addition, Tom Ahern, the scorer of Munster’s late try in Italy, and Alex Kendellen are back in the starting XV.
Fresh from his first start, 21-year-old loosehead Kieran Ryan and Edwin Edogbo take the number of starters from the Academy squad to three. There are seven Academy players involved if you include replacements Mark Donnelly, Ruadhan Quinn, Brian Gleeson and Ben O’Connor.
If he is introduced on the all-weather pitch, talented 19-year-old O’Connor will make his senior debut having only joined Munster’s Academy set-up in the summer.
He has been lining out for UCC in the Energia All-Ireland League this season and was a Pinergy Munster Schools Senior Cup winner with PBC in March. He won the All-Ireland Under-20 Hurling Championship title with Cork barely a couple of months later.
While Crowley makes a timely return to back up Butler from the bench, Munster attack coach Mike Prendergast said: “Tony naturally got a few hit-outs with us in the pre-season games and fortunately enough, within the group, when we got together as a coaching staff last season we decided that we would all train together, our Academy and seniors.
“So, if guys do get called up or brought in, it’s not too new for them. It’s very, very important for them that players are comfortable with each other both on and off the pitch. It’s something that we want to keep, so Tony has been exposed to a couple of games early on this season.
“He’s been training well and has been training with partnerships as well which is really, really important for us.”
He added: “We’re looking forward now at what the Dragons will bring, but we know we have to be a lot better than that (last week) in our first 40 (minutes). We spoke about starting strong this weekend and keeping the performance going.”
MUNSTER (v Dragons); Shane Daly; Sean O’Brien, Alex Nankivell, Rory Scannell, Calvin Nash; Tony Butler, Craig Casey; Kieran Ryan, Diarmuid Barron, John Ryan, Edwin Edogbo, Tom Ahern, Jack O’Donoghue (capt), Alex Kendellen, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Scott Buckley, Mark Donnelly, Stephen Archer, Ruadhan Quinn, Brian Gleeson, Paddy Patterson, Jack Crowley, Ben O’Connor.