Monday 20 August 2018

Simon Zebo fit as Rassie Erasmus defends derby selection

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus during a Munster rugby press conference at University of Limerick. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus during a Munster rugby press conference at University of Limerick. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Rassie Erasmus has defended his decision to field an experimental line-up in last Saturday's defeat to Leinster at the Aviva Stadium.

The Munster director of rugby opted to tinker with his backline for the Guinness PRO14 derby, selecting Tyler Bleyendaal at inside centre and JJ Hanrahan at full-back.

Fit-again Simon Zebo is likely to return to that position on Sunday as Munster open their Champions Cup campaign away to Castres, while Erasmus confirmed that Rory Scannell would return to the midfield alongside Chris Farrell with Keith Earls on the wing.

Bleyendaal is expected to be restored to out-half, with JJ Hanrahan potentially on 'A' team duty. Jean Kleyn, meanwhile, has a 70pc chance of playing.

And the South African has no regrets about the team he picked to play Leinster.

"With all due respect to Leinster and the Pro14, when we started last year right through to the semi-finals and finals we picked our best available team all the all the time," he said.

"Some people didn't get game-time, guys weren't sharp enough, some guys sat on the bench all the time so this year we really went out and just said, 'Listen, we have got guys coming into the squad, new guys, so we have to get them game-time'.

"So you have to have those answers going into Europe," Erasmus added.

"On the one side, yes, we have our answers, we can select our team and try and defeat a tough team such as Castres away."

Irish Independent

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