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Champions Cup

Earls and Carbery Out but Munster Name Strong Team

Munster have named their team for their Champions Cup semi-final and it’s going to take some beating

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Munster have made 12 changes to the side that defeated Benetton last weekend for their Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday at 15 00.

Joey Carbery misses out as expected but he is joined on the side lines by quarter-final hero Keith Earls. Otherwise Munster are almost at full strength for the game.

Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan start in the front-row for the reds with Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne slotting behind in the second-row.

Peter O’Mahony captains the side on his 50th Champions Cup appearance and is joined in the back-row by Jack Donoghue and CJ Stander.

Conor Murray will look to run things from the half-backs alongside Tyler Bleyendaal. While Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell come in at 12 and 13 respectively.

Darren Sweetnam begins on the left-wing, with Andrew Conway on the right and Mike Haley continuing at full-back to finish the starting XV.

On the bench Rhys Marshell, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland and Arno Botha are the forward replacements. Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan and Dan Goggin are cover for the backs.

Speaking ahead of the game Munster head coach Johann van Graan believes that his team will be facing the best side in this year’s tournament thus far.

“They’ve been the team of the Champions Cup thus far. They haven’t lost a game yet, they’ve played some fantastic rugby and scored the most tries and they’ve got a lot of world class players in their team, so, we’re definitely up against a massive challenge away from home on Saturday afternoon,” he said.

The opposition is formidable with Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Titi Lamositele locking down in the front-three, with England duo Maro Itoje and George Kruis as the locks.

Michael Rhodes, Jackson Wray and Billy Vunipola make up the back-row. Vunipola will be sure to get some reaction from the fans following his recent support for Israel Folau’s comments towards the LGBT community.

Ben Spencer partners Owen Farrell in the half-backs, with Brad Barritt and Alex Lozowski in the centre.

Liam Williams and Sean Maitland open on the wings and Alex Goode slots in at 15.

With the likes of Will Skelton, Schalk Burger and Richard Wigglesworth to call on from the bench, Saracens will be a constant threat throughout the game.

Whoever wins this game will be incredibly difficult as final opponents for either Leinster or Toulouse.

Key Battles:

Mako Vunipola vs Dave Kilcoyne = This game could be won or lost at the breakdown and the set-piece. Although they won’t be on the same side of the scrum both of these will be vital to pushing their team toward the final. Kilcoyne will also be expected to put in as many big hits as possible on the English star who will look to burst holes in the Munster defence. These two could hold the key to their side’s success or failure.

Billy Vunipola vs CJ Stander = Two massive ball carriers and two massive players for their respective teams. Vunipola will be under pressure to perform following his off-field antics over the past couple of weeks, while Stander will need to lead from the front as always. The personal battle of these is reason enough to watch this game.

Owen Farrell vs Tyler Bleyendaal = Farrell has been in remarkable form this year and after missing out on a Six Nations title and the quarter-final of the Champions Cup he will wan to add the trophy to his cabinet. Bleyendaal is another who has had an amazing spell this year and will need to be at his best to keep Farrell from turning screw on Munster. Both kickers will need their accuracy to be on point as every point will count in this clash.

No matter who comes out on top on Saturday one thing is for sure it will be well deserved as we could be in for a real treat of a game if both sides get into their groove.


Champions Cup

RTÉ To Broadcast Munster Home Champions Cup Fixtures

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RTÉ have today confirmed fixture details for both of Munster’s home Heineken Champions Cup Pool fixtures against Toulouse and Northampton Saints.

See home fixture details below with details yet to be confirmed for our away games.

Ticket details will be released shortly.

Heineken Champions Cup Fixtures

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Round 1: Munster Rugby v Stade Toulousain, Thomond Park, 3.15pm;

December 16/17/18, 2023

Round 2: Northampton Saints v Munster Rugby, TBC;

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Round 3: Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 3.15pm;

January 20/21/22, 2023

Round 4: Stade Toulousain v Munster Rugby, TBC;

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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Champions Cup

Player Contract Extensions Confirmed

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Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the first player contract extensions of the season with five members of the senior squad putting pen to paper.

Craig Casey has signed a three-year contract while Mike Haley, Shane Daly and Josh Wycherley have signed two-year contract extensions.

Additionally, Alex Kendellen, who advanced to the senior ranks at the beginning of the season on a new two-year deal, has extended his contract further to remain with the province until at least July 2025.

Scrum-half Craig Casey has made 49 appearances for the province since his debut against Connacht in 2019.

The 23-year-old Shannon man and former Ardscoil Rís pupil won Academy Player of the Year in 2019 and was also vice-captain of the Grand Slam-winning Ireland U20s that year.

He was named Young Player of the Year in 2021 and has made 38 appearances over the past two seasons along with earning five Ireland caps.

Mike Haley.

Mike Haley joined Munster from Sale Sharks in 2018 and has already amassed 80 appearances for the province, starting at full-back on each occasion and scoring 16 tries.

The Preston native played more minutes than any other Munster player in the 2018/19 and 2020/21 campaigns and made his Ireland debut against Italy in August 2019.

28-year-old Haley made his Munster debut against Cheetahs in 2018 and has been a near ever-present at full-back since.

Shane Daly.

A product of the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy, versatile back Shane Daly joined the senior squad in 2019 and has established himself as a key member of the squad.

He was named Young Player of the Year in 2020 with the Cork Constitution clubman and former PBC student earning two Ireland caps over the past two years.

To date, the 25-year-old has scored eight tries in 49 Munster appearances and starts at full-back for Emerging Ireland against the Griquas in Bloemfontein later today.

Josh Wycherley

Josh Wycherley enjoyed a standout season last year making 19 appearances with an overall 29 appearances in red to date.

The 23-year-old prop made his debut against Cardiff Blues in Thomond Park in October 2020 with his first Champions Cup start singled out for high praise when Munster secured victory against Clermont Auvergne in December 2020.

His grassroots stem from Bantry Bay RFC and he is a former pupil of Cistercian College, Roscrea and linked up with Young Munster RFC on his move to Limerick.

Alex Kendellen.

A former Ireland U20s Six Nations Grand Slam winner, Wycherley starts for Emerging Ireland against the Griquas in Bloemfontein later today.

21-year-old Alex Kendellen was initially named in the Emerging Ireland squad for the South Africa tour but did not travel as he continues to follow return to play protocols.

A product of PBC and UCC the back-row forward was deservedly named the Academy Player of the Year in June after a fantastic season that saw him line out in 20 of Munster’s 26 games.

Kendellen made his debut against Scarlets in March 2021 and has made 22 appearances for the province.

He captained the Ireland U20s for the 2021 Six Nations and was a standout performer as they finished third, scoring six tries in five appearances.

Watch Live | Griquas v Emerging Ireland – 12.45pm

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Champions Cup

Munster Rugby New Coaches Intro | 2022/23

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A new-look coaching team will lead Munster Rugby this season with Head Coach Graham Rowntree joined by Mike Prendergast, Andi Kyriacou and Denis Leamy.

New Attack Coach Prendergast joined from Racing 92, Forwards Coach Kyriacou was promoted from his role as Elite Player Development Officer and Defence Coach Leamy has returned from Leinster.

See profiles for the three new members of the coaching team below. Scroll down to watch Graham Rowntree’s first interview as Munster Head Coach.

Mike Prendergast – Attack Coach

Mike Prendergast has joined Munster from Top 14 side Racing 92, where he held the role of  Attack and Backs Coach since 2019.

Prendergast has a wealth of experience of coaching at the top level and in addition to Racing 92 he has held assistant coaching roles with Stade Francais, Oyannax Rugby and Grenoble FCG since making the move to France in 2013.

On completing his professional playing career in 2009 the scrum-half continued playing with his club Young Munster RFC while also progressing on the coaching front as he held Head Coach and Director of Rugby roles with the Limerick side.

On the provincial coaching front, he previously worked closely with Academy Manager Ian Costello and Team Manager Niall O’Donovan when overseeing the backline for the Munster A’s that enjoyed British and Irish Cup success in 2012.

Andi Kyriacou – Forwards Coach

Andi Kyriacou has been promoted from his role as an Elite Player Development Officer with the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy, a position he held since April 2021.

From England, the former hooker lined out for the province during the 2006/07 season when on loan from Saracens and went on to represent Ulster and Cardiff Rugby before retiring from the professional game in 2013.

Over the last decade he has held numerous coaching roles in the areas of the scrum, defence, skills, and forwards working with Cardiff Rugby, Sale Sharks, Russia Rugby and Nottingham.

Andi Kyriacou prior to Munster's Champions Cup clash against Wasps in Coventry earlier this season.

Andi Kyriacou prior to Munster’s Champions Cup clash against Wasps in Coventry.

Denis Leamy – Defence Coach

Denis Leamy returned to Munster after a three-year spell at Leinster, where he first held a role as an Elite Player Development Officer before moving up to the role of Contact Skills Coach in October 2021.

Following a hugely successful playing career with Munster and Ireland Leamy’s coaching career saw him work with several sides across the province over seven years including Young Munster RFC, Rockwell College, Clonmel RFC, Cashel RFC and Garryowen FC.

On the provincial front the Tipperary native also worked at various stages with Munster’s age-grade players and the ‘A’ team before making the move to Leinster.

He joined the Ireland U20s team as Assistant Coach for the 2021 Six Nations campaign.

New Defence Coach Denis Leamy.

New Defence Coach Denis Leamy.

Video | Graham Rowntree Interview

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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