Munster will aim to lower the colours of GUINNESS PRO12 pacesetters the Ospreys on Saturday evening, chasing their third successive win ahead of next week’s Aviva Stadium showdown with Leinster.
GUINNESS PRO12: Saturday, September 27
MUNSTER (5th) v OSPREYS (1st), Thomond Park, 6.30pm (live Sky Sports 2 HD)
Team News: Munster head coach Anthony Foley has named his team to face GUINNESS PRO12 leaders the Ospreys at Thomond Park on Saturday. The selected side sees Conor Murray promoted to captain for the round 4 clash.
Murray is one of six players to retain their starting positions from last weekend’s 31-5 bonus point win over Zebre.
Ireland loosehead prop David Kilcoyne makes his first start of the season alongside hooker Duncan Casey and South African tighthead BJ Botha.
Donncha O’Callaghan comes into the second row for Billy Holland who has played every minute of this season’s PRO12 to date, and Munster’s most capped player will be partnered by Paul O’Connell who makes his second consecutive league start.
Paddy Butler retains responsibility at blindside flanker, with Sean Dougall and CJ Stander returning to the starting line-up at openside flanker and number 8 respectively.
In the half-backs Murray will captain the side from scrum half, while Ian Keatley is back to take command of the number 10 channel.
After impressing in the centre last time out against Zebre, Denis Hurley will again start at inside centre alongside Ivan Dineen who replaces Andrew Smith – one of the try scorers against the Italians.
Gerhard van den Heever has recovered from a knee injury to make his first appearance of the season on the left wing. The South African comes in for Simon Zebo, another who has played every minute of Munster’s league campaign to date.
Andrew Conway returns to the right wing with Johne Murphy starting at at full-back for the first time in the current league campaign.
A strong performance on his senior debut last Friday sees Academy player Jack O’Donoghue included among the replacements once again this weekend.
Munster v Ospreys tickets are available to buy online here, and from the mobile ticket unit at the East Stand on Saturday from 10am and the West Stand ticket booth from 4.30pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Ospreys boss Steve Tandy has made three changes to the side that ran in nine tries in a thumping 62-13 home victory over Edinburgh.
Two of the switches are in the back-line where knee injury victim Jonathan Spratt is replaced by Andrew Bishop at outside centre and Eli Walker comes in for Hanno Dirksen on the left wing.
James King drops back to the replacements bench to allow Joe Bearman slot back in at blindside flanker. He will form a back row combination with Justin Tipuric and the 22-year-old Dan Baker, who has made three successive starts at number 8.
MUNSTER: Johne Murphy; Andrew Conway, Ivan Dineen, Denis Hurley, Gerhard van den Heever; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray (capt); David Kilcoyne, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Paddy Butler, Sean Dougall, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, David Foley, Jack O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Andrew Smith.
OSPREYS: Dan Evans; Jeff Hassler, Andrew Bishop, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Rynier Bernardo, Joe Bearman, Justin Tipuric, Dan Baker.
Replacements: Sam Parry, Duncan Jones, Dmitri Arhip, James King, Morgan Allen, Martin Roberts, Sam Davies.
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Gary Conway, Nigel Correll (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/3; Draw: 22/1; Ospreys to win: 21/10
Pre-Match Quotes: Anthony Foley (Munster) – “The Ospreys are a good side who are well coached and they’ll come here with a lot of confidence. To put 62 points on Edinburgh is no mean feat and it shows that they will take every opportunity that comes their way.
“They have an excellent kicker in Dan Biggar, and Rhys Webb at scrum half is causing all sorts of trouble for teams at the moment.
“Those half-backs are only allowed to play because their pack is so dominant so we’ll have our hands full at the weekend. It’s going to be a tough affair up front and it’s important that we get the edge there.
“With the Ospreys so far this season there are a lot of penalties and resets of scrums so we need to make sure we don’t come out worse off on that front. They are also very disruptive at lineout time. They will look to get in amongst us as you would expect so we have to get our heads around that.
“It’s important that people come out and create a good home atmosphere. We need the support if we are to go anywhere in the competition, we need to make Thomond Park a fortress. We’ll do our best on the pitch but we need people to come out and support us as well.”
Steve Tandy (Ospreys) – “Although we’ve got three wins from three, we realise that the performances have been far from perfect in many respects. It’s a pretty grounded group of players we’ve got and they aren’t getting carried away with themselves.
“They appreciate that there is plenty to improve on, plenty of work to do, and their attitude this week has been spot on. That’s very pleasing to see as a coach, and is exactly what we want to see.
“Looking at the weekend’s game, it’ll be a big step up from what we’ve had so far in terms of intensity. Munster at Thomond Park is always a difficult environment for an away team, so we know that we will have to prepare properly and be on top of our game out there.
“There’ll be tough moments, especially for a young team, but we know that they will give nothing less than 100% for the cause, whatever the outcome. It’s going to be a fantastic experience for some of these young men who are still learning their trade, and is another big step forward in their development.”
Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Munster – Points: Simon Zebo 20; Tries: Simon Zebo 4; Ospreys – Points: Dan Biggar 40; Tries: Rhys Webb 4
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, December 3, 2011 – Ospreys 19 Munster 13, Liberty Stadium
Friday, May 11, 2012 – Semi-final – Ospreys 45 Munster 10, Liberty Stadium
Saturday, September 29, 2012 – Ospreys 30 Munster 15, Liberty Stadium
Saturday, March 2, 2013 – Munster 13 Ospreys 13, Thomond Park
Saturday, November 2, 2013 – Munster 12 Ospreys 6, Thomond Park
Sunday, February 23, 2014 – Ospreys 11 Munster 25, Liberty Stadium
– Munster have won their last two GUINNESS PRO12 encounters – both against Italian opponents. The Munstermen have not won three in a row in the competition since February
– Last season Munster had a won 7, lost 1 record against Welsh regions, the single defeat being at the Scarlets in round 15
– The table-topping Ospreys have won their last four PRO12 matches since tripping up to Zebre in Parma last May
– The Ospreys have been victorious in their last two games against Irish provinces but have not won three such successive games since February 2013
– Munster are unbeaten in their last three encounters with the Ospreys since the Welshmen’s victory at the Liberty Stadium in September 2012
– The Ospreys have won just once in Limerick since April 2010: 17-13 in the PRO12 on October 8, 2011