O’Connell and Ryan in Munster’s engine room for Ulster clash

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

Anthony Foley's Munster side face Cardiff Blues in a crucial Guinness PRO12 clash at Musgrave Park this Saturday, 1.30pm (Live TG4)
PAUL O’Connell and Donncha Ryan will start together in the Munster second row for the first time since December 2013 when Anthony Foley’s charges face Ulster in the Guinness PRO12 at Kingspan Stadium this Saturday, 2.40pm.

PAUL O’Connell and Donncha Ryan will start together in the Munster second row for the first time since December 2013 when Anthony Foley’s charges face Ulster in the Guinness PRO12 at Kingspan Stadium this Saturday, 2.40pm.

O’Connell’s return is one of three changes head coach Foley makes to his starting line-up from the side which defeated Treviso last time out.

Saturday’s Belfast clash will be the first time Irish captain O’Connell and Shannon second-row Ryan have started in the second row together since Perpignan away in December 2013.

The second change to the forwards sees hooker Eusebio Guinazu trading places with Duncan Casey this week, as the Argentinian international packs down with Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer.

While the unchanged back row of Captain Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander complete the pack.

Denis Hurley is the only change to the backline as he joins Andrew Smith in midfield with Simon Zebo, Keith Earls and Felix Jones continuing as the back three.

Finally with the half-back pairing of Conor Murray and Ian Keatley remaining the same, Keatley will make his 99th appearance for the province on Saturday.

Second-placed Munster currently enjoy a one-point lead over third-placed Ulster in the battle to secure home advantage in the Guinness PRO12 play-offs later this month. Saturday’s game will be televised live on Sky Sports.

MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Andrew Smith, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Eusebio Guinazu, Stephen Archer; Donnacha Ryan, Paul O’Connell; Peter O’Mahony (Capt), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: Duncan Casey, John Ryan, BJ Botha, Billy Holland, Jack O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Ronan O’Mahony.