Sunday 18 February 2018

Munster v Leinster team news: Joy as Tommy O'Donnell and Sean O'Brien return

Sean O'Brien, left, and Tommy O'Donnell are back
Sean O'Brien, left, and Tommy O'Donnell are back

The teams for Sunday's mouthwatering inter-provincial derby between Munster and Leinster at Thomond Park have been named

Munster boss Anthony Foley makes four changes to the starting XV that lined out against Leicester last Sunday and Tommy O'Donnell returns to the matchday 23 for the first time in five months.

After sustaining a traumatic injury in the form of a hip dislocation in Ireland's World Cup warm-up game against Wales in August Tommy O'Donnell makes an earlier than expected return to the match-day squad this weekend thanks to the efforts of Munster's medical and fitness staff, and the player's exceptional commitment to his rehabilitation programme.

After successfully completing his return to play protocols for concussion BJ Botha also returns this week and starts next to Mike Sherry and James Cronin in the front row, while Donnacha Ryan is back in the second row after last week's late withdrawal due to illness, joining fellow Tipperary-lock Dave Foley.

The final change in the forwards sees Jack O'Donoghue introduced at openside with Robin Copeland and Captain CJ Stander as they were.

There is only one change to the backline with Tyler Bleyendaal making his second start at 10, and the New Zealander joins Conor Murray in the halfbacks.

Ian Keatley is omitted from the matchday squad.

The mid-field pairing of Denis Hurley and Francis Saili, and back three of Simon Zebo, Keith Earls and Andrew Conway all remain in situ.

On the injury front Dave O'Callaghan met with the specialist yesterday for an adductor injury and it has been confirmed that the backrow will be side-lined for approximately six weeks.

Meanwhile, Zane Kirchner starts at full back for Leinster with Fergus McFadden recovering from a calf strain to take his place on the right wing and Isa Nacewa as captain from the left.

Luke Fitzgerald partners Garry Ringrose in the centre for the first time with Ringrose making only his second start in the 13 jersey. The young Academy centre was selected to play against the Scarlets in Round 7 but due to an early injury to Rob Kearney in that game he was moved out to the wing to accommodate Ben Te'o who came off the bench.

In the half backs Ian Madigan starts at 10 with Eoin Reddan getting the nod at scrumhalf.

Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, who will make his 100th Leinster appearance, and Tadhg Furlong start in the front row with Devin Toner and Tom Denton in the second row.

Finally in the back row Dominic Ryan starts at blind side flanker with Sean O'Brien making a welcome return from injury at open side. Jamie Heaslip packs down at number 8.

Munster: (15-9) Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; (1-8) James Cronin, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha; Dave Foley, Donnacha Ryan; Robin Copeland, Jack O'Donoghue, CJ Stander Capt.

Replacements: (16-23) Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Tommy O'Donnell, Tomás O'Leary, Rory Scannell, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

Leinster: (15-9) Zane Kirchner, Fergus McFadden, Garry Ringrose, Luke Fitzgerald, Isa Nacewa, Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan; (1-8) Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Tom Denton, Dominic Ryan, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: (16-23) James Tracy, Cian Healy, Marty Moore, Ross Molony, Josh van der Flier, Nick McCarthy, Cathal Marsh, Dave Kearney

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