Peter O’Mahony captains Munster with eight of Munster’s Rugby World Cup contingent set to feature at Thomond Park.
Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, O’Mahony and CJ Stander all start with Conor Murray among the replacements.
JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson and Chris Cloete keep their places in the side after helping Munster to a bonus-point win away to Cardiff Blues last week as Munster make 12 changes.
Academy winger Liam Coombes makes his second Munster start with Mike Haley and Conway completing the back three.
Mathewson and Hanrahan continue their half-back partnership with Rory Scannell and Farrell in the centres.
James Cronin, Scannell and Ryan pack down in the front row with Kleyn and Billy Holland in the engine room.
O’Mahony, Cloete and Stander are named in the back row.
Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Conor Murray, Tyler Bleyendaal, Arno Botha.
Dan McFarland has switched things up with seven changes from the side that defeated Zebre last Friday, Irish internationals Jacob Stockdale and Jordi Murphy will make their first appearances this season.
In the back three, Matt Faddes switches to full-back and is joined by the returning Stockdale and Rob Lyttle on the left and right wings respectively.
Stuart McCloskey is re-called to join last week’s Man-of-the-Match, Luke Marshall in midfield. Angus Curtis will make his first start for Ulster this season at fly-half and is joined by John Cooney at scrum-half, who made his 50th appearance last time out against Zebre.
Among the four changes in the forwards, Marty Moore returns to make his first start of the season at tighthead, joining Jack McGrath at loosehead and captain Rob Herring to make up an all international front row. Sam Carter comes back in to join Alan O’Connor in the second row.
Joining Murphy will be Sean Reidy at blindside, and Nick Timoney switches to assume the number eight position, completing the back row.
In the replacements, Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Matthew Rea will provide forward cover. David Shanahan, Bill Johnston and Robert Baloucoune – who is also set to make his seasonal bow – make up the back-line reinforcements.
Ulster team to play Munster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 6, Saturday 9 November at Thomond Park (kick-off 5:15pm):
(15-9) Matt Faddes, Rob Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Angus Curtis, John Cooney.
(1-8) Jack McGrath, Rob Herring (Capt.), Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney.
Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, David Shanahan, Bill Johnston, Robert Baloucoune.
Did you know?
Munster are unbeaten in their last 24 home games in all tournaments
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU, 28th competition game)Assistant Referees: Rob O’Sullivan (IRFU), Paul Haycock (IRFU)TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)
Live on eir sport 1, Premier Sport 2, DAZN, PRO14.tv.
Munster Press Conference:
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.