Friday 19 January 2018

Rabodirect Pro12 team news: Munster make 14 changes for Connacht clash

JJ Hanrahan
JJ Hanrahan

Rob Penney has made 14 changes to his starting XV for the visit of Connacht to Thomond Park(kick-off 7.15pm) with JJ Hanrahan the only survivor from last week's win over the Scarlets.

Last Saturday's front row replacements Niall Scannell and John Ryan move in to the starting XV joining James Cronin for the round 11 clash, with Scannell making his first start at this level after making his debut last weekend as a replacement.

Donncha O'Callaghan also makes the step up and starts next to Dave Foley in the second row while Paddy Butler marks his return from injury with a starting place in the back-row, joining Sean Dougall and James Coughlan who captains the squad for the second time this season.

Hanrahan is joined in the half-backs by Duncan Williams this week with Gerry Hurley named in the replacements for the first time this season. The Cork Con man is line to make a return to league action against the same opposition he last played exactly six years ago.

Ronan O'Mahony who scored the winning try in the 83rd minute last Saturday is named in the new look starting backline with Johne Murphy joining James Downey in the centre partnership for the first time this season.

Munster team to face Connacht: (15-9) F Jones; K Earls, J Murphy, J Downey, R O'Mahony; JJ Hanrahan, D Williams; (1-8) J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan; D O'Callaghan, D Foley; P Butler, S Dougall, J Coughlan Capt.

Replacements: (16-23) D Varley, A Cotter, S Archer, B Holland, CJ Stander, G Hurley, J Holland, D Hurley.

Connacht coach Pat Lam has made three changes to his team for tomorrow's trip to Limerick to face Munster at Thomond Park.

Frank Murphy will earn his 100th Connacht cap when he starts at scrum half.

Connacht’s leading try scorer Fionn Carr has been named on the right wing while Gavin Duffy moves to full back to allow Irish International Robbie Henshaw switch to the centre.

In the pack, the front five remains unchanged from last week but the back row sees Andrew Browne promoted from the bench to start at blindside flanker while John Muldoon switches to the openside. Eoin McKeon makes up an all-Galway back row wearing the Number 8 jersey.

On the replacements bench, lock Aly Muldowney returns to the fray and 20-year-old Academy back Darragh Leader has been brought in as cover.

Commenting on his selection, Lam said: “Despite being boosted by the win on Saturday against the Dragons, we lost a couple of guys through that last game and it’s hugely disappointing to have to plan without Dave (McSharry), especially on the back of losing our other midfielders Danie (Poolman), Craig (Ronaldson) and Kyle (Tonetti) to injury.

“Kieran Marmion has had a high work load this season having played in every game and taking part in a two-day national camp earlier this week.  So he is named on the bench for tomorrow’s game. We’re delighted for Frank to achieve his 100th Connacht cap, especially after such a long road to recovery last season.

“Jake (Heenan) joins Willie Faloon on the injured list which is another huge loss to a crucial position for us. But John (Muldoon) has shown in the past that he has the skillset and experience to switch sides in the back row.

“We’re really looking forward to the game. These interprovincial games are huge occasions and a source of great pride for the players. It’s a massive challenge as Munster are flying high at the top of the PRO12 table, they’re topping their own Heineken Cup pool and we haven’t beaten them down there since 1967!

“We have shown this season that if we go through the processes and bring heart to our game plan, we can get the outcome we all want.  That’s what we have to do tomorrow.”

Connacht team to play Munster: (15-9) G Duffy, F Carr, R Henshaw, E Griffin, M Healy, D Parks, F Murphy; (1-8) B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, N White, M Kearney, C Clarke, A Browne, J Muldoon, E McKeon

Replacements: (16-23) D Heffernan, D Buckley, R Ah You, A Muldowney, G Naoupu, K Marmion, J Carty, D Leader

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