Ireland stars return for Munster in crucial Zebre Pro12 test

Ireland stars return for Munster in crucial Zebre Pro12 test

IRELAND stars Keith Earls, Simon Zebo, Tommy O’Donnell and Donnacha Ryan have been included in Munster’s starting line-up for Good Friday’s crucial Guinness Pro12 clash with Zebre at Thomond Park, 7pm.

Two more internationals who were key members of Ireland’s 6 Nations campaign, Conor Murray and CJ Stander, have been named among the replacements for the key fixture.

In all Munster head coach Anthony Foley has made nine changes to the side which lost to Cardiff on Friday last for the visit of the Italians to Limerick. Munster will field an all-Irish starting XV for the game, with all players products of the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy

In an all-new front row, Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer start on either side of Niall Scannell with Archer making his first start since returning from a long-term neck injury.

Donnacha Ryan comes into the second row and will make his 100th league appearance when partnering Billy Holland who again captains the side.

O'Donnell is the one personnel change in the back-row with Dave O'Callaghan and Jack O'Donoghue reverting to blindside and number 8 respectively.

Changes in the half-backs see Tomás O'Leary and Johnny Holland start alongside each other for the first time in what will be Holland's first inclusion in the starting line-up since returning from a long-term hamstring injury.

A new starting partnership is also seen in the midfield with the returning Earls joining Rory Scannell while the return of Zebo at full-back is the final change with Ronan O'Mahony and Darren Sweetnam again completing the back-three.

Francis Saili sustained a knock to the shoulder in training this week, ruling him out of contention for the Good Friday game. The centre is expected to return to training next week.

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Keith Earls, Rory Scannell, Ronan O'Mahony; Johnny Holland, Tomás O'Leary; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland (Capt), Dave O'Callaghan, Tommy O'Donnell, Jack O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Mike Sherry, James Cronin, Mario Sagario, Dave Foley, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Ian Keatley, David Johnston.