FLANKER Tommy O’Donnell will captain Munster for the first time in Friday night’s sold-out international fixture with the Maori All-Blacks at Thomond Park, 7.30pm.
Three players are in line to make their Munster debuts in the game which will be live on eir Sport. Recently arrived New Zealand signing Te Aihe Toma is included on the bench as are the Academy’s John Foley and Sean O’Connor.
O’Connor was part of the Ireland side that defeated New Zealand at this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship.
Conor Oliver, Brian Scott and Dan Goggin are also included in the matchday squad. However, Munster’s Kiwi out-half Tyler Bleyendaal, who impressed in Friday night’s bonus point Pro12 win over Ospreys, is not included in Munster’s 23.
Munster make three changes in the pack from the side which defeated Ospreys in the Pro12 last weekend. James Cronin comes back into the front row with John Madigan making his first start of the season in the second row.
Oliver returns with captain O’Donnell and Robin Copeland making positional switches to form a new look back row. O’Donnell starts at blindside for the first time since February 2014.
The last change comes at half back where Ian Keatley comes in to partner Duncan Williams.
Returning from Ireland camp, right winger Darren Sweetnam is the only to player to start every game this season and makes his tenth consecutive start.
Twenty three clubs and schools from across the province will be represented on the pitch tomorrow night having won the #MunsterRising Socks competition, in association with Life Style Sports. Along with seeing their colours on the big stage, winning entrants have the opportunity to lay their club or school socks out for their assigned player in the Munster dressing room before kick-off.
MUNSTER: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; John Madigan, Darren O’Shea; Tommy O’Donnell (Captain), Conor Oliver, Robin Copeland. Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Peter McCabe, Brian Scott, Sean O’Connor, John Foley, Te Aihe Toma, Dan Goggin, Alex Wootton.
MAORI ALL-BLACKS: Marty McKenzie; Ambrose Curtis, Matt Proctor, Tim Bateman, James Lowe; Otere Black, Billy Guyton; Kane Hames, Ash Dixon Capt., Ben May; Leighton Price, Tom Franklin; Reed Prinsep, Shane Christie, Akira Ioane. Replacements: Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Marcel Renata, Whetu Douglas, Kara Pryor, Brad Webster, Ihaia West, Jason Emery.