Heineken Cup team news for the Irish provinces
Ireland forward Donnacha Ryan makes a surprise return for Munster, there are three changes for Connacht while Leinster and Ulster name unchanged teams for this weekend's Heineken Cup action
Ireland forward Donnacha Ryan has made a sooner-than-expected return from a knee injury to take his place in Munster's team for the trip to France to take on Perpignan.
Ryan's inclusion in Munster's second row alongside Paul O'Connell is one of four changes that Rob Penney has made this week.
Ryan has not been in action for Munster since their victory over Gloucester in October.
There are two new props for the provice with James Cronin and BJ Botha coming into the team for Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer.
Cathal Sheridan replaces the injured Conor Murray in the only other change to the Munster side.
The back-row combination of captain Peter O’Mahony, Sean Dougall and James Coughlan remains intact.
Ian Keatley, as expected, has recovered from the dead leg he sustained last weekend to start at out-half.
Outside of Keatley, James Downey and Casey Laulala retain their places in the centres with the back three of Johne Murphy, last week’s man of the match Keith Earls and Felix Jones all keeping their places in the side.
The notable inclusion on the bench is last season’s Player of the Year, Tommy O’Donnell. O’Donnell made his comeback from injury off the bench for Munster A last weekend after suffering a hyper-extension of his knee against Zebre in September.
Former Munster centre Lifeimi Mafi returns to the starting team for Perpignan, who are missing James Hook, Luke Charteris and Dewaldt Duvenage. The trio have been given the week off.
Munster team to face Perpignan: (15-9) Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Johne Murphy; Ian Keatley, Cathal Sheridan; (1-8)James Cronin, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Donnacha Ryan, Paul O'Connell; Peter O'Mahony Capt., Sean Dougall, James Coughlan.
Replacements: (16-23) Duncan Casey, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Donncha O'Callaghan, Tommy O'Donnell, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Denis Hurley.
Perpignan team to face Munster: (15-9) Joffrey Michel; Richard Haughton, Lifeimi Mafi, Watisoni Votu, Sofiane Guitoune; Tommy Allen, Nicolas Durand; (1-8) Sébastien Taofifenua, Romain Terrain, Ion Paulica; Sébastien Vahaamahina, Guillaume Vilacéca; Dan Leo, Alasdair Strokosch, Luke Narraway (capt.).
Replacements: (16-23) Guilhem Guirado, Pascal Cotet, Jean-Baptiste Custoja, Jutin Purll, Tom Ecochard, David Marty, Tommaso Benvenuti, Jean-Pierre Perez.
Leinster have named the same starting XV which scored a resounding victory over the Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens for the return fixture at the Aviva tomorrow evening.
Jack McGrath continues at loosehead prop for the injured Cian Healy who has been ruled out for up to eight weeks following ankle surgery.
Coach Matt O'Connor has selected an unchanged line-up from the one that started last weekend's victory in Franklin's Gardens. Jamie Heaslip leads an all-Ireland team for the return visit of Northampton.
Leo Cullen, Shane Jennings and Zane Kirchner are named on an experienced looking bench.
Leinster team to face. Northampton: (15-9) Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald, Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan;(1-8) Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip (c)
Replacements: (16-23) Aaron Dundon, Michael Bent, Martin Moore, Leo Cullen, Shane Jennings, John Cooney, Jimmy Gopperth, Zane Kirchner.
Ulster name the same side that beat Treviso 48-0 at Ravenhill last weekendwith lock Dan Tuohy set to make his 100th appearance for the province.
Commenting on reaching the milestone, Dan Tuohy said: ”I was aware at the end of last season that I was sitting in the high 80s so I knew I was going to hit it at some point this year. It’s nice and it’s something that I will look back on at the end of my career and be proud of. Having reached 100 appearances for Ulster is definitely special.”
The match will also see Ulster tighthead prop, John Afoa, make his 50th appearance for Ulster and Andrew Trimble will play his 57th game in the Heineken Cup, equalling David Humphreys’ Ulster appearance record in the competition.
Ulster team to face Treviso: (15-9) Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; (1-8) Tom Court, Rob Herring, John Afoa, Johann Muller, Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack, Sean Doyle, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: (16-23) Niall Annett, Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick, Neil McComb, Mike McComish, Paul Marshall, Michael Allen, David McIlwaine.
Connacht coach Pat Lam has been forced to make three changes to his team for the visit of Toulouse following their historic 16-14 victory in the south of France last weekend.
The three changes come in the pack with Jason Harris-Wright and Rodney Ah You coming into the front row in place of Sean Henry and Nathan White. Galway-man Eoin McKeon has been named to start at Number 8 in a back row with John Muldoon and Jake Heenan.
Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, Head Coach Pat Lam said: “Our week was certainly disrupted with an outbreak of the flu affecting twelve of our squad members. We had to curtail the session yesterday and were restricted in what we could do. But these things are out of control and thankfully a lot of the guys are feeling better today after some rest.
“We’ve made some changes to the pack after what was a hugely physical game last week. Unfortunately we lost Michael Swift to injury but we have the experience of Andrew (Browne) returning to the match squad this week.
“Last weekend’s game was the biggest challenge we faced as a team, and we overcame that, but now we’re up against another massive challenge. We’re playing a vengeful Toulouse who will come here determined to turn around last week’s defeat.
“Like everyone we want the win, but as with every game our focus is on the process of winning the game. It’s going to be an fantastic atmosphere with the Sportsground sold out and I know that will only add to the occasion and drive the team on.”
Connacht team to face Toulouse: (15-9) Robbie Henshaw, Fionn Carr, Eoin Griffin, Dave McSharry, Matt Healy, Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; (1-8) Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris-Wright, Rodney Ah You, Mick Kearney, Craig Clarke (c), John Muldoon, Jake Heenan, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: (16-23) Sean Henry, Denis Buckley, Nathan White, Andrew Browne, George Naoupu, Frank Murphy, Craig Ronaldson, Gavin Duffy.