Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players Craig Casey, Gavin Coombes, Shane Daly and Seán O’Connor will be promoted to the senior squad ahead of the 2019/20 campaign with Nick McCarthy joining from Leinster Rugby.
All four Academy players have already made their debuts for the province, find out more about the five new additions to the senior squad below.
Scrum-half Craig Casey spent two years in the Munster Rugby Academy and was named 2018/19 Academy Player of the Year in April.
A former Ardscoil Rís pupil, Casey made his All Ireland League debut with Shannon RFC earlier this season and made his Munster bow against Connacht at Thomond Park in April 2019.
Gavin Coombes is a product of Skibbereen RFC and Bandon Grammar and spent three years in the Munster Rugby Academy.
The 21-year-old Young Munster back-row forward/lock made his Munster debut in the opening game of the 2018/19 season against the Cheetahs and went on to make eight Guinness PRO14 appearances over the campaign.
Coombes represented the Ireland U20s in the 2017 Six Nations and U20s World Championship and has scored six tries in 16 Munster A appearances.
Shane Daly is a product of Highfield RFC, PBC and Cork Constitution and spent three years in the Munster Rugby Academy.
The 22-year-old starred for the Ireland U20s in the 2016 6 Nations and U20s World Championship and has also represented the Ireland 7s side.
The Cork native has won a number of senior honours with Cork Con and made his Guinness PRO14 debut against Cheetahs at Thomond Park in September 2018, going on to make six PRO14 appearances over the season.
Scrum-half Nick McCarthy joins Munster this summer having scored four tries in 36 appearances for Leinster.
McCarthy made 18 appearances for the Ireland U20s and captained the side at the 2014 World Championship.
The 24-year-old is a former pupil of St Michael’s College and made his senior debut against Toulon in December 2015.
Seán O’Connor made his senior debut against the Maori All Blacks in November 2016 and has made nine appearances for the province.
The 22-year-old represents Garryowen FC in the All Ireland League and is a product of Cashel RFC and Rockwell College.
In 2016 he helped the Ireland U20s to their best-ever finish as runners-up at the World Championship.
O’Connor can play in the second row and the back row, scored two tries in 19 Munster A appearances and spent three years in the Munster Rugby Academy.
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Munster confirm Zebo signing
This co-funded contract will see Munster’s all-time record try-scorer return from Racing 92 and line out for his home club where he made 144 appearances and scored 60 tries between 2010 and 2018.
In his third season with the Top 14 side, the 31-year-old has played 55 times and scored 21 tries to date.
Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish Rugby.
“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere. This has made bringing the province’s all-time leading try-scorer back home, possible.”
Simon Zebo said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster. My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough, I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.
“However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options. I cannot wait to get back to the HPC with the team and hopefully a packed Thomond Park.”
Ulster Rugby agree to release Coetzee early
Marcell Coetzee has played his last game for Ulster Rugby.
With back-row, Marcell Coetzee, currently side-lined with a hamstring injury, Ulster Rugby has agreed terms which will see the player released from the club at the end of this month, ahead of his planned departure at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.
Given the need for several weeks of rehabilitation following the injury sustained by Coetzee in last month’s Guinness PRO14 fixture against Leinster, Ulster Rugby and the player have reached a mutual agreement to part ways on Friday 30 April.
Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment, Bryn Cunningham, said: “We have come to an agreement that will allow Marcell the time and space required to continue his rehab.
Lowry retained at 10 for Ulster v Zebre
21-year-old, Cormac Izuchukwu will make his first start for the Ulster men as he is named in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell. Marty Moore comes back into the starting front row at tighthead, with Eric O’Sullivan and John Andrew retaining their starting berths at loosehead and hooker. Jordi Murphy will captain the side at openside flanker, with Sean Reidy and David McCann being retained at blindside and Number Eight.
A youthful back line sees Ethan McIlroy coming into the back three at full-back, with Rob Lyttle on the left wing and Robert Baloucoune returning on the right. Stewart Moore and James Hume will make up the midfield pairing, while John Cooney and Michael Lowry are named at half-back.
Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Matty Rea are the forward reinforcements, with David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham providing the back line options on the bench.
Ulster team to play Zebre Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 16, Friday 19 March at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):
(15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Michael Lowry, John Cooney;
(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordy Murphy (Capt.), David McCann.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.