Munster will aim to follow up on their rousing victory over Leinster by winning at Thomond Park for the second time this season, with the Scarlets providing the opposition on Friday night.
GUINNESS PRO12: Friday, October 10
MUNSTER (4th) v SCARLETS (6th), Thomond Park, 7.35pm (live TG4/BBC 2 Wales)
Team News: As part of eight changes from last weekend’s starting line-up, Munster head coach Anthony Foley has promoted the returning Peter O’Mahony to the team to face the Scarlets at Thomond Park.
An all-new front row sees David Kilcoyne and BJ Botha pack down on either side of Kevin O’Byrne as the 23-year-old UL Bohemians hooker makes his second PRO12 start.
David Foley retains his starting position in the second row alongside Billy Holland who comes in to make his fourth league start of the season.
Following a 16-minute appearance off the bench against Leinster, O’Mahony returns to the starting line-up and will captain the province from blindside flanker. Tommy O’Donnell remains at openside with CJ Stander switching to number 8 for the round 6 encounter.
Munster’s man-of-the-match against Leinster, Conor Murray, will again start at scrum half with JJ Hanrahan donning the number 10 jersey in place of the benched Ian Keatley.
Ivan Dineen and Andrew Smith form the centre partnership once more, while Gerhard van den Heever comes in to join Simon Zebo and Felix Jones in a lively looking back-three.
The replacements see the inclusion of Argentinian hooker Eusebio Guinazu for the first time with Donncha O’Callaghan and Johne Murphy also returning to the matchday squad.
Tickets are available to buy online here and from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices in Thomond Park and Musgrave Park today and tomorrow from 10am.
Tickets can also be purchased from the Mobile Ticket Unit in the Fanzone Plaza on Friday from 2pm and from the West Stand Ticket booth from 5.30pm.
Meanwhile, with a solid victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons last Sunday, the Scarlets will be looking to build further momentum as they take on fourth-placed Munster who are currently only a single point ahead of them in the league table.
Head coach Wayne Pivac has made four changes to the starting line-up from last weekend’s derby clash.
Aled Davies replaces the injured Gareth Davies at scrum half, while Phil John, Kirby Myhill and Rhodri Jones will line out together in the front row. Rob Evans, Emyr Phillips and Samson Lee all drop to the replacements bench.
MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Gerhard van den Heever, Andrew Smith, Ivan Dineen, Simon Zebo; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; David Kilcoyne, Kevin O’Byrne, BJ Botha, David Foley, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Eusebio Guinazu, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, Robin Copeland, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Johne Murphy.
SCARLETS: Liam Williams; Harry Robinson, Gareth Owen, Scott Williams (capt), Kristian Phillips; Rhys Priestland, Aled Davies; Phil John, Kirby Myhill, Rhodri Jones, Jake Ball, Johan Snyman, Aaron Shingler, John Barclay, Rory Pitman.
Replacements: Emyr Phillips, Rob Evans, Samson Lee, George Earle, James Davies, Rhodri Williams, Steven Shingler, Michael Tagicakibau.
Referee: Claudio Blessano (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Gary Conway, Dermot Blake (both Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 2/9; Draw: 22/1; Scarlets to win: 3/1
Pre-Match Quotes: JJ Hanrahan (Munster) – “It was good to get into a game like that (against Leinster) and have a penalty that counts even though we were a good few scores ahead. It settled a few nerves because we had two sin-bins and they were hammering our line.
“Everybody on the sideline was itching to get in there. Big decisions were made during the week and guys wanted to really put a stamp on it, especially when you’re ahead by a few scores, you really want to get into a game like that.
“And then being under the cosh in the last 20 minutes, you want to be in there to try and save the team. Sometimes there’s a bit of fear factor. You wonder if I will be able for it but at the same time you want to get on there.
“One thing I’ve learned is that a game always looks harder on the sideline. We went up there (to Dublin) with a job to do. A lot of guys had things to prove in terms of Ireland shirts. Munster were once regarded as the best team in Ireland and now that perception might not be out there and with good reason because we haven’t been getting the results. That game is a stepping stone to where the organisation wants to go and where we want to be.
“There is always pressure in Thomond Park, a fear I suppose of losing in front of your own fans. It’s a case of trying to turn that fear into a positive thing. You never want three losses at home in Munster.
“The Leinster game is now parked, it has to be with the group of teams we are playing next. It was great for us, put a bit of belief in the squad, prove to ourselves that we could do it and some fellas might have needed that.”
Wayne Pivac (Scarlets) – “We’re improving bit by bit and the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. At this time of year we want to be making good improvements.
“Getting four points from last weekend’s game was what we needed to get, it would have been nice to get five but we’ll take the four.
“If we look at Munster from the loss at home against Edinburgh to where they are now – they’ve made improvements all the way through.
“The energy levels and physicality they brought to the Leinster game over 80 minutes was impressive. They’ll test us defensively and there’s no doubt it will be a physical encounter.”
Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 44; Tries: Simon Zebo 4; Scarlets – Points: Rhys Priestland 43; Tries: Gareth Davies 4
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, September 17, 2011 – Munster 35 Scarlets 12, Musgrave Park
Saturday, April 21, 2012 – Scarlets 20 Munster 20, Parc y Scarlets
Sunday, November 25, 2012 – Munster 6 Scarlets 13, Musgrave Park
Saturday, February 16, 2013 – Scarlets 18 Munster 10, Parc y Scarlets
Saturday, December 21, 2013 – Munster 16 Scarlets 10, Musgrave Park
Saturday, March 1, 2014 – Scarlets 18 Munster 13, Parc y Scarlets
– Munster’s only defeat in their last four GUINNESS PRO12 encounters was 19-14 at home to the Ospreys in round 4
– The Munstermen have won only one of their last five home games: 31-5 against Zebre on September 19
– The Scarlets have suffered just one defeat in their last seven PRO12 matches: 42-12 against Leinster at the RDS in round 2 recently
– The Welshmen’s only victory in their last nine away games came in Treviso on February 8, while their lone victory in Ireland since November 2012 was at Connacht last November
– Each side won its respective home game when the two teams met in the PRO12 last season, while the Scarlets have been victorious just once on Munster soil in the last eleven years: 13-6 in Cork in November 2012
– The Welsh region have won just one previous encounter at Thomond Park: 19-12 in the league in September 2003