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Simon Zebo and Peter O’Mahony among seven Munster changes while Jack McGrath makes Ulster return


Simon Zebo during Munster rugby squad training at University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Simon Zebo during Munster rugby squad training at University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Simon Zebo during Munster rugby squad training at University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Munster have rung the changes ahead of tomorrow night's inter-pro derby against Ulster at Thomond Park, but several Ireland internationals who were expected to return to the starting team have not been included.

Following the bitterly disappointing performance in last weekend's defeat to Connacht, Johann van Graan has made seven alterations to his XV, including a recall for captain Peter O'Mahony.

However, the likes of Conor Murray, Keith Earls and Andrew Conway miss out, while Tadhg Beirne has to make do with a place on the bench, as Munster opt for an exciting, youthful second-row pairing of Fineen Wycherley and Thomas Ahern.

As well as O'Mahony and Ahern, Sean French, Jack Crowley, John Hodnett and Simon Zebo, who is set to make only his fourth appearance since rejoining Munster, come into the team.

Zebo and French start on either wing, along with Mike Haley in the back-three. Rory Scannell is set to make his 150 appearance for his home province as he replaces the injured Damian de Allende (abdomen) and starts next to Chris Farrell in midfield.

Crowley is handed a big opportunity to showcase his undoubted potential from out-half as he links up with Craig Casey.

Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer make up an experienced front-row, with Wycherley and Ahern behind them in the engine room. O'Mahony will lead an exciting back-row that also includes Hodnett and Gavin Coombes.

Beirne is joined on the bench by Diarmuid Barron, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Jack O’Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Ben Healy and Shane Daly.

Meanwhile, Ulster are without a host of players due to injury and Covid-related issues, following a recent outbreak within the squad.

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Dan McFarland is still, however, able to name a strong time for the trip to Limerick.

Stuart McCloskey is a significant absentee, which sees James Hume, who is set to make his 50th Ulster appearance, switch to inside centre, with Ben Moxham coming in outside him for his first start of the season.

Mike Lowry is at full-back with Ethan McIlroy and Craig Gilroy on the wings. First-choice half-back pairing John Cooney and Billy Burns remain in situ.

Jack McGrath will make his first start of the season at loosehead, with Rob Herring and Tom O’Toole completing the front-row.

Alan O’Connor will captain the side from the second-row alongside Sam Carter, with Greg Jones, Nick Timoney and Springbok Duane Vermeulen making up the back-row.

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell and Marcus Rea provide the forward options on the bench, while Nathan Doak, Angus Curtis and Rob Lyttle are the back-line cover.

Munster: M Haley; S French, C Farrell, R Scannell, S Zebo; J Crowley, C Casey; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, S Archer; T Ahern, F Wycherley; P O’Mahony (capt), J Hodnett, G Coombes. Reps: D Barron, J Wycherley, J Ryan, T Beirne, J O’Donoghue, N Cronin, B Healy, S Daly.

Ulster: M Lowry; C Gilroy, B Moxham, J Hume, E McIlroy; B Burns, J Cooney; J McGrath, R Herring, T O’Toole; A O’Connor (capt), S Carter; G Jones, N Timoney, D Vermeulen. Reps: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Kane, K Treadwell, M Rea, N Doak, A Curtis, R Lyttle.

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