Tuesday 27 June 2017

Bull aims to sign off in style

JOHN HAYES is set to win his 212th and final cap for Munster on Monday after being named at tight-head prop in the team to face Connacht in their Pro12 clash at Thomond Park (7.45), writes Hugh Farrelly.

Playing his final game at the famous old Limerick ground is a fitting end for the Cappamore giant after years of service there for Shannon and Munster. Coach Tony McGahan has made 11 changes to the side that defeated Scarlets last weekend and includes youngsters Sean Scanlon and Luke O'Dea in the backline, while Donncha O'Callaghan packs down in the second-row next to captain Mick O'Driscoll.

In contrast, Connacht make only one change to the side that came agonisingly close at Gloucester last weekend, with Fetu'u Vainikolo starting on the right wing in place of the injured Mark McCrea. John Muldoon has been cleared to start at No 8 after getting 10 stitches in a knee wound last weekend.

Meanwhile, despite resting a clutch of front-line players under the Player Management Programme, Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has still been able to name 10 Ireland internationals in his side for their St Stephen's Day derby against Ulster at the RDS.

Shane Jennings captains the side in the back-row while Luke Fitzgerald starts at full-back, with Fergus McFadden and Gordon D'Arcy at centre. Ulster have named a very inexperienced side, containing five debutants, due to the Ravenhill clash with Munster four days later. Nigel Brady captains the side from hooker, while Paul Marshall lines up with James McKinney in the half-backs.

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