6 NATIONS Championship winners Paul O’Connell, Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony all start for Munster in this Saturday night’s crucial Guinness PRO12 clash with Edinburgh at Murrayfield, 7.30pm.
In total, Munster head coach Anthony Foley makes six changes to the side that defeated Connacht at Thomond Park just under a fortnight ago.
An all new front row sees Dave Kilcoyne and BJ Botha pack down on either side of Duncan Casey who makes his first start since the end of January.
Ireland captain O’Connell returns to partner the in-form Billy Holland in the second row, while the inclusion of captain Peter O’Mahony at 6 is the only change to the back row with Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander continuing at seven and eight respectively. O’Donnell draws ever closer to the 100 cap milestone and will win his 99th cap for the province this weekend.
The final change comes in the half backs with scrum half Conor Murray resuming his partnership with Ian Keatley.
There is no change to the backline this week with Denis Hurley, Andrew Smith, Simon Zebo, Keith Earls and Felix Jones all retaining their starting positions.
James Cronin is included amongst the replacements for the first time since picking up a knee injury on his 6 Nations debut against Italy in February, while Donnacha Ryan also takes his place on the bench having completed his return to play protocols following a concussion sustained while playing for Munster ‘A’ against the Ulster Ravens in March. Saturday night’s PRO12 game at Murrayfield is live on TG4.
There is good news regarding Cathal Sheridan this week, and after almost five months on the sideline with a forearm injury, the scrum-half has successfully completed his return-to-play and may be available for his club side UL-Bohemian in the Ulster Bank League this weekend.
Meanwhile, Munster ‘A’ will travel to Banbridge RFC to face the Ulster Ravens this coming Thursday, April 16 at 5pm.
MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Andrew Smith, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha; Billy Holland, Paul O’Connell; Peter O’Mahony (Capt), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: Eusebio Guinazu, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Donnacha Ryan, Dave O’Callaghan, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Ronan O’Mahony.
EDINBURGH: Greig Tonke; Dougie Fife, Phil Burleigh, Andries Strauss, Tim Visser; Tom Heathcote, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford (Capt), WP Nel; Anton Bresler, Ben Toolis, Roddy Grant, Hamish Watson, David Denton. Replacements: Stuart McInally, Grant Shields, John Andress, Fraser McKenzie, Tomas Leonardi, Nathan Fowles, Sam Beard, Tom Brown.