Munster’s Earls is back centre of attention

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

Keith Earls makes his first start of the season for Munster in the province's European Champions Cup clash with Sale Sharks at Thomond Park on Sunday, 3.15pm
KEITH Earls will make his first start of the season for Munster in Sunday’s European Champions Cup pool clash with Sale Sharks at Thomond Park, 3.15pm.

KEITH Earls will make his first start of the season for Munster in Sunday’s European Champions Cup pool clash with Sale Sharks at Thomond Park, 3.15pm.

Earls, who underwent knee surgery in the autumn, made his first appearance for the province this term when introduced as a second half replacement in Munster’s shattering defeat to Saracens last weekend.

Munster head coach Anthony Foley has now named the Limerickman to start Sunday’s ‘dead rubber’ clash with the Sharks when he will partner Denis Hurley in the centre.

In all, head coach Foley makes three changes to the side which lost to Sarries at Allianz Park. Felix Jones, who failed to come through a fitness test, is replaced at full-back by Simon Zebo, who moves from the wing for his 80th appearance for the province. Zebo’s position on the wing will be filled by in-form Garryowen player Ronan O’Mahony, who will be making his first European start.

With injury ruling CJ Stander out of the backrow, Dave O’Callaghan comes in at number six for his first European start this season with Tommy O’Donnell remaining at seven and Peter O’Mahony switching to number eight.

The bench sees the inclusion of the returning Robin Copeland from shoulder injury and Ivan Dineen who is in line to make his first European appearance if called upon. Munster’s hopes of making the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup ended with the province’s heavy defeat to Saracens.

Tickets are available to purchase online from the Munster Rugby website or Ticketmaster.ie with prices starting from €20 and Terrace Family Packs from €60. Tickets can also be purchased at the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park or Musgrave Park or by calling 0818 719 300.

Meanwhile, the Munster A aside to face Doncaster Knights in the quarter-final of the British and Irish Cup at Castle Park this Saturday (2pm) has also been named.

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Denis Hurley, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha; Dave Foley, Paul O’Connell; Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony (Capt). Replacements: Eusebio Guinazu, John Ryan, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Robin Copeland, Ivan Dineen, JJ Hanrahan, Pat Howard.

MUNSTER A v Doncaster Knights: Stephen Fitzgerald; Darren Sweetnam, David Johnston, Gearoid Lyons, Greg O’Shea; Rory Scannell, Neil Cronin; Liam O’Connor, Niall Scannell, Ger Sweeney; Donncha O’Callaghan, Lee Nicholas; Shane Buckley, Sean Dougall, Jack O’Donoghue (Capt). Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Peter McCabe, Declan Lavery, Frank Bradshaw Ryan, Ben Kilkenny, Jack Cullen, Dan Goggin.