Second row Tadhg Beirne is named in the Munster side to face Connacht on Sunday
THE Munster team to face Connacht in Sunday’s crunch Guinness PRO14 clash has been named by Head Coach Johann van Graan with a 3pm kick-off at the Aviva Stadium.
A win will secure Munster’s place in the Guinness PRO14 semi-finals and it is the first ever meeting of Munster and Connacht at the Aviva Stadium/Lansdowne Road.
The Munster backline is unchanged with five players coming into the pack.
Jeremy Loughman, John Ryan, Fineen Wycherley, Tadhg Beirne and Chris Cloete are all drafted into the side.
Beirne is in line to make his first appearance since sustaining an ankle fracture away to Saracens last December.
Shane Daly starts at full-back with last week’s try-scorers Andrew Conway and Keith Earls on either flank.
Damian de Allende and Chris Farrell pair up in the centres for the second time with Conor Murray and JJ Hanrahan in the half-backs.
Loughman, Niall Scannell and Ryan pack down in the front row with Wycherley and Beirne starting in the engine room together for the first time.
Captain Peter O’Mahony, Cloete and CJ Stander complete the starting XV.
Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Jack O’Donoghue and Jack O’Sullivan are named among the replacements and set to make their first appearances since the return to rugby.
O’Donoghue sustained a concussion at training last week but has completed the return to play protocols.
Head Coach Johann van Graan said: “We have training this afternoon and hopefully that goes well and all players selected come through that.
“Connacht really played well last Sunday against Ulster and it’s always a big battle facing them, we expect a very good game on Sunday afternoon.”
Munster: Shane Daly; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Keith Earls; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Fineen Wycherley, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander. Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Jack O’Donoghue, Craig Casey, Rory Scannell, Jack O’Sullivan.