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Munster Make Six Changes For Final Round Clash With Ulster

Munster Make Six Changes For Final Round Clash With Ulster

Former Ireland Under-20 captain Alex Kendellen has played in every BKT URC and Investec Champions Cup game for Munster so far this season ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony is one of six personnel changes to the Munster team to play Ulster at Thomond Park (kick-off 5.15pm). Tickets for Saturday’s interprovincial derby are available to buy here.

Seán O’Brien, Rory Scannell, Stephen Archer, RG Snyman, and Simon Zebo, who is retiring at the end of the season, also come back into the starting XV as Munster chase a win that would see them finish top of the table.

A leg injury meant Antoine Frisch was ruled out of selection, along with Alex Nankivell, who damaged his ankle against Edinburgh, so O’Brien slots in at outside centre where he partners Scannell for the first time.

Calvin Nash, who has signed a one-year contract extension to keep him at Munster until 2026, and Shane Daly continue on the wings, with Zebo coming in at full-back for Mike Haley, who is following the return-to-play protocols following a head injury.

Jack Crowley and Craig Casey complete the back-line, and South African Snyman renews his second row partnership with captain Tadhg Beirne. Tighthead Archer will make his 282nd provincial appearance, packing down with Jeremy Loughman and Niall Scannell.

O’Mahony, Alex Kendellen, and Jack O’Donoghue, who moves to number 8, start together in the back row as Graham Rowntree’s men gun for their ninth league victory in a row, having already secured the province’s first home play-off game since 2019.

Eoghan Clarke, John Ryan, and Oli Jager provide the front row back-up. Ryan is named as Munster’s loosehead prop replacement for the first time since January 2016.

Tom Ahern, Gavin Coombes, and John Hodnett complete the forward cover, with Conor Murray and Joey Carbery the two reserve backs. Kendellen, Ahern, and Coombes are set to continue their record of playing in every BKT URC and Investec Champions Cup match so far this season.

“100%, yeah, it’s a huge game,” acknowledged Munster attack coach Mike Prendergast. “If we don’t perform this week, it would take the gloss off, of course it would.

“Ulster are a really good side, they’ve won four on the bounce and you’d expect a bounce when a new coach comes in. Richie Murphy’s getting that. We know we need to be on it to get a result.

“Just because we did win it (the URC title) last year, it doesn’t mean we’re naturally going to win it this year but you take the learnings from that.

“The one thing I can see outside which gives me great confidence is the hunger, the hunger comes through competitiveness. We’ve a few lads back from injury, over the wintery months – especially in Europe – we had to rely on the same players, that was the nature of it.

“But we’ve had a lot of players back over the last month or two and you can see that competitiveness in training, around the building – and that gives me and the coaching staff good security.

“They’re a good bunch of lads, experience, and some younger lads. You marry that, you know when to go after something if you need to but you don’t want to take it away from them either.”

MUNSTER (v Ulster): Simon Zebo; Calvin Nash, Seán O’Brien, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, RG Snyman, Tadhg Beirne (capt), Peter O’Mahony, Alex Kendellen, Jack O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, John Ryan, Oli Jager, Tom Ahern, Gavin Coombes, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, John Hodnett.