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Munster Make Six Changes for Ospreys

Munster have named their team to face a depleted Ospreys team

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster have made six changes to their starting XV as they visit the Liberty Stadium to face a depleted Ospreys side on Friday at 19 35.

Both teams are without a host of international stars as the men in red look to continue their reign at the top of Conference A.

With the likes of Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell and Niall Scannell heading back to Irish duty some players have got an opportunity to impress.

Calvin Nash comes into the starting XV on the wing for his first game of the season, while Jaco Taute and Dan Goggin making up the centre partnership.

JJ Hanrahan has been named at fly-half, with the other changes coming in the front-row where Rhys Marshell starts at hooker and Stephen Archer is at tighthead prop.

Archer and Marshell are joined by Jeremy Loughman in the front three.

The rest of the pack remains the same as last week with Jean Kleyn partnering captain Billy Holland in the second-row, while Fineen Wycherley, Chris Cloete and Arno Botha make up the back-row.

Neil Cronin is Hanrahan’s half-back partner, and as mentioned above Taute and Goggin are at 12 and 13 respectively.

Darren Sweetnam is at 11, Nash at 14 and Mike Haley continues at full-back.

On the bench, Jack O’Donoghue is set to make his first appearance since injuring his knee last May.

Speaking ahead of the game Munster head coach Johann van Graan has given his fringe players encouragement by saying that this is their chance to prove themselves.

“We’re a lot of numbers down, but we’re excited about that because it comes back to our squad, and a lot of guys will get opportunities this week specifically to play and to hopefully put up their hands for later in the season,” he said.

The Ospreys are looking to bounce back from an 8-0 loss to Ulster last weekend and head coach Allen Clarke has told his side that they need to continue their charge for the knock-out stages.

“Friday night’s game against Munster is important if we are to keep challenging for the play-off positions. It’s obviously a massive test against the conference leaders but a test the boys are determined to embrace,” he said.

Munster currently sit top of Conference A two points ahead of second placed Glasgow Warriors and will be looking to continue their recent run of form. However, the Ospreys are down in fourth with only two separating them from the Cheetahs in sixth.

A win for either team could be vital to their season as we head into the final few rounds of fixtures.

Pro14

Munster confirm Zebo signing

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that Simon Zebo has signed a one-year contract to return to play with the province for the 2021/22 season.

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.”

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby agree to release Coetzee early

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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.

“I’d like to thank Marcell for his contribution to the province over the past five years and we wish him and wife, Chanelle the very best for their upcoming return home to South Africa.”

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Pro14

Lowry retained at 10 for Ulster v Zebre

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad to host Zebre in tomorrow night’s final Guinness PRO14 regular season game (Kingspan Stadium, 8.15pm).

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.

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