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Pro14

Munster v Connacht. Line-Ups.

Strong team from Munster.

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Photo By Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster:

Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan has named his side for Saturday’s must-win Guinness PRO14 Interpro derby against Connacht at Thomond Park (7.35pm).

There are four changes to the team that lined out against Saracens in last week’s Champions Cup semi-final.

Dan Goggin, named Young Player of the Year earlier this week, Calvin Nash, Stephen Archer and Chris Cloete all come into the side.

Mike Haley starts at full-back with Andrew Conway and Nash on either flank.

Goggin partners up with Chris Farrell in the centres with the half-back pairing of Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal unchanged.

Dave Kilcoyne and Niall Scannell pack down in the front row with Archer as locks Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne keep their places.

Player of the Year Peter O’Mahony captains Munster from the back row with Cloete and no.8 CJ Stander completing the starting XV.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Calvin Nash; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Arno Botha, Neil Cronin, JJ Hanrahan, Sammy Arnold.

Connacht:

Connacht Academy out-half Conor Dean is set to make his debut for the province in the Guinness PRO14 clash with Munster in Thomond Park on Saturday (Kick off 7:35pm). 21 year old Dean is in his first year in the Academy and becomes the seventh player from Connacht’s Academy to be handed a start this season by Head Coach Andy Friend.

Dean will form a half back partnership with Irish international scrum half Kieran Marmion. The back line has further international experience with the midfield partnership of Bundee Aki and former Ireland 7s Captain Tom Daly.

In the back three, Stephen Fitzgerald returns to Thomond Park to face his former team mates as he is named on the wing, with Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing and the experienced Tiernan O’Halloran at full back.

Up front, there is good news for Connacht, as tighthead Finlay Bealham has returned from a hand injury to take his place alongside hooker Tom McCartney and Ballinrobe man Matthew Burke at loosehead.

In the second row, James Cannon starts alongside Joe Maksymiw, while in the back row Captain Jarrad Butler is named at openside, with Eoin McKeon at blindside and another former Munster man Robin Copeland at number 8.

With Connacht already qualified for a PRO14 Quarter Final against Ulster next weekend, Head Coach Andy Friend says there is still much to play for: “Munster are an outstanding side. We saw that when we played them at home earlier in the season and they have been even better since. There is still a huge incentive for our players. We know that these interpro fixtures always bring out the best in our boys and we know that going to Thomond Park is a massive challenge”.

“With a quarter final next weekend, we have huge competition in the squad and that is exactly what we need at this stage of the season. This is a big opportunity for everyone involved”, Friend added.

Pro14

Ulster ring the changes for Munster

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Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad has been named to face Munster in Round 2 of the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup on Friday (Thomond Park, 8.15pm kick-off).

There are nine changes to the side that travelled to Leicester last Friday. In the back three, Jacob Stockdale and Ethan McIlroy are retained at full-back and left-wing respectively, with Rob Lyttle coming in to start on the right. Will Addison will make his first start this season at outside centre, partnering up with Stuart McCloskey. Michael Lowry and Alby Mathewson will form the starting half-back partnership.

It’s all-change in the front row, with Andrew Warwick and Tom O’Toole getting the nod at loosehead and tighthead prop, and John Andrew named at hooker. Last week’s second row pairing of Alan O’Connor and Iain Henderson has been retained, and Henderson will lead the side. In the back row, Marcus Rea is named to start at openside flanker with Jordi Murphy making the switch to blindside, and David McCann is selected at Number Eight.

Angus Curtis makes a long-awaited return to the Ulster match-day squad for the first time since he sustained a serious knee injury in December 2019, and is named among the replacements. He is joined by David Shanahan and James Hume in providing back line cover. Wallaby lock Sam Carter is also set for his return to action, and he joins Rob Herring, Callum Reid, Marty Moore and Nick Timoney as the forward options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Munster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup Round 2, Friday 7 May at Thomond Park (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports):

(15-9) Jacob Stockdale, Rob Lyttle, Will Addison, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Michael Lowry, Alby Mathewson;

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, John Andrew, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Jordi Murphy, Marcus Rea, David McCann.

Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Reid, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Angus Curtis, James Hume.

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Pro14

Huge boost for Ulster as Henderson & Addison return

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Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad to play Connacht in Friday’s opening round of the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup has been named (kick-off 8.15pm, Kingspan Stadium).

Iain Henderson makes his return to lead the side and will be partnered by Kieran Treadwell in the second row. Andrew Warwick comes in to start at loosehead prop, with Tom O’Toole at tighthead and Rob Herring selected to start at hooker. In the back row, Matty Rea comes in at blindside flanker, with Sean Reidy at openside, and Nick Timoney completing the pack at Number Eight.

Jacob Stockdale makes a positional switch to full-back, and will be joined by Ethan McIlroy and Robert Baloucoune in the back three. Stewart Moore will form the midfield partnership with James Hume, and John Cooney and Billy Burns are named as the starting half-backs.

Will Addison is set to make his return from a lengthy spell on the sidelines as he is named among the Ulster back line replacements alongside David Shanahan and Michael Lowry. John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor and Greg Jones are the forward options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Connacht Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup Round 1, Friday 23 April at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports):

(15-9) Jacob Stockdale, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney;

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Matty Rea, Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor, Greg Jones, David Shanahan, Michael Lowry, Will Addison.

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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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