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O’Donoghue Becomes Youngest Munster Player To Reach 200 Caps

O’Donoghue Becomes Youngest Munster Player To Reach 200 Caps

Jack O'Donoghue made his Munster senior debut against Zebre Parma in September 2014, and became a centurion in May 2019, a year after suffering a knee ligament injury ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Moving from number 8 to blindside flanker, Jack O’Donoghue will reach the 200-cap mark when Munster play Edinburgh at Hive Stadium in the penultimate round of the BKT United Rugby Championship on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm).

It will be a very special occasion for Waterford man O’Donoghue as he becomes the 14th player to achieve the double century for Munster. Having turned 30 in February, he is the youngest ever player to reach the landmark.

There are five personnel changes and two positional switches to the team that beat Connacht 47-12 last week, with Mike Haley and Antoine Frisch slotting back in at full-back and outside centre respectively.

Frisch’s inclusions sees Alex Nankivell, the BKT URC player-of-the-match in that interprovincial victory, reclaim the number 12 jersey, while in-form wingers Calvin Nash and Shane Daly complete the back-three.

Between them, Nash and Daly have scored seven tries in their last 11 appearances, and half-backs Jack Crowley, who has overcome a foot injury to start, and Craig Casey have also been crucial to Munster’s climb back to third in the table.

Returning from a knee injury, Ireland prop Oli Jager will make his first start since February after recently recovering from a knee injury. He links up with Jeremy Loughman and Niall Scannell in the front row.

Fineen Wycherley joins captain Tadhg Beirne in the engine room, with RG Snyman reverting to the replacements bench where Graham Rowntree has opted for a six-two split. Tom Ahern has shaken off a shoulder injury to continue in an impact role.

Peter O’Mahony, Ireland’s Six Nations-winning captain, misses out due to a knock, so the reigning URC champions’ rejigged back row is made up of O’Donoghue, Alex Kendellen, and Gavin Coombes, who makes his first start since early April.

Eoghan Clarke, Academy loosehead Mark Donnelly, and John Ryan provide the front row back-up, and Brian Gleeson is the extra forward held in reserve. The 20-year-old Academy back rower is in line for his first appearance since January.

Rory Scannell returns to the matchday 23, replacing the injured Joey Carbery, and Conor Murray is the other back-line option as the Munstermen aim to win their eighth league match in a row, something they have not done since 2017.

With ten points between the teams in the current standings, and seventh-placed Edinburgh also pushing hard for a play-off place, Munster forwards coach Andi Kyriacou said: “They’re like mini finals every week now, with the league being so tight, and the Sharks being alive in Europe as well, to potentially gain that European slot.

“That’s intensified things more, if it could be possible. We’re pretty calm and measured about it, we’ve not really looked past the game we have in front of us, and this week is Edinburgh and we know the threats they’ve got and what they’re going to come with.

“It’s a big challenge going over there and performing, so we’ve addressed a few bits that we needed to sort out from Connacht, and we’re looking forward to the challenge that we’re going to face on Friday night.”

Meanwhile, in player news, Academy back rower and Shannon clubman Daniel Okeke has completed his time at the province and will pursue a new playing opportunity next season.

MUNSTER (v Edinburgh): Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Alex Nankivell, Shane Daly; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, Oli Jager, Fineen Wycherley, Tadhg Beirne (capt), Jack O’Donoghue, Alex Kendellen, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, Mark Donnelly, John Ryan, RG Snyman, Tom Ahern, Conor Murray, Rory Scannell, Brian Gleeson.