Ben Brady/INPHO Edwin Edogbo gets his first start for Munster.
# Stand up and fight
Re-energised Munster team must lift the pressure with win over Bulls
Graham Rowntree has brought a crop of Emerging Ireland players straight back in.

IN THEIR TIME of need, Munster look for comfort at home in Thomond Park, where the embrace of the crowd has lifted them so often in the past.  

Graham Rowntree will hope to hear his side roared on passionately as they look for a leg-up against the Bulls in the URC this evening [KO 7.35pm, TG4]. Their fans hope to see a win, first and foremost, and an improved performance to go along with it.

The opening four games of this campaign have proved rather miserable, leaving Munster with ground to make up in the race for play-off and Champions Cup qualification spots. It’s a little early to panic, but there’s no doubt that Munster need an urgent response.

Rowntree has reacted by giving his team what the French sometimes call an ‘electroshock,’  with several changes to his matchday 23 for this clash on the new hybrid pitch at Thomond Park.

The returning crop of Emerging Ireland players feature prominently and Rowntree will expect them to bring energy and confidence after a successful trip to South Africa. Shane Daly and Calvin Nash come straight into the starting back three – underlining how they were missed last weekend in Galway – while Diarmuid Barron, Roman Salanoa, Tom Ahern, Jack Crowley, and John Hodnett are all included on the bench.

Ahern and Crowley caught plenty of eyes in South Africa, so their input will be particularly interesting.

Having covered at fullback in last weekend’s defeat to Connacht, Joey Carbery moves to his preferred position of out-half and partners Craig Casey in the halfbacks as Conor Murray reverts to the bench.

Perhaps the most notable selection of all is 19-year-old academy lock Edwin Edogbo, who gets his first-ever Munster start. It’s just reward for his excellent form off the bench in recent weeks. The powerful Cobh Pirates product is a player of rich promise.

shane-daly Alex James / INPHO Shane Daly returns at fullback for Munster. Alex James / INPHO / INPHO

Having captain Peter O’Mahony cleared of injury is an obvious boost, while the introduction of Edogbo means Tadhg Beirne moves into the back row, from where he will offer his usual level of game-changing ability. 

With 20-year-old academy man Pa Campbell shifting to the number 15 shirt, there is lots to like about this Munster matchday squad on paper. It’s what they put out on the pitch that counts though, and the Bulls will be determined to add to their suffering.

Jake White’s side suffered a 35-21 defeat away to Glasgow last weekend, spoiling their run of three wins at the start of the season. 

There’s a big boost for the South Africans as Johan Goosen returns at out-half after White opted not to play him on the 4G surface in Glasgow for fear of him being injured, while the Bulls boss has made a few other tweaks to his side as Mornay Smith, Harold Vorster, WJ Steenkamp, and Embrose Papier are brought in.

The Bulls will offer their usual level of threat at lineout and maul, but any back three that includes the talents of Kurt-Lee Arendse and Wandisile Simelane has to be respected too. The Bulls always focus on physicality but they can play when they want to.

The areas where Munster need to be better are obvious. Better handling skills, discipline, and breakdown will leave them well-positioned to grab their second win of the season and ease some of the pressure that has developed.

On home soil, Rowntree’s men should have enough to do it. With Leinster and Ulster to come in the next fortnight, the alternative would be rather worrying.


  • 15. Patrick Campbell
  • 14. Calvin Nash
  • 13. Malakai Fekitoa
  • 12. Dan Goggin
  • 11. Shane Daly
  • 10. Joey Carbery
  • 9. Craig Casey
  • 1. Jeremy Loughman
  • 2. Niall Scannell
  • 3. Stephen Archer
  • 4. Jean Kleyn
  • 5. Edwin Edogbo
  • 6. Tadhg Beirne
  • 7. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
  • 8. Gavin Coombes


  • 16. Diarmuid Barron
  • 17. Dave Kilcoyne
  • 18. Roman Salanoa
  • 19. Tom Ahern
  • 20. Jack O’Donoghue
  • 21. Conor Murray
  • 22. Jack Crowley
  • 23. John Hodnett


  • 15. Kurt-Lee Arendse
  • 14. Cornal Hendricks
  • 13. Lionel Mapoe
  • 12. Harold Vorster
  • 11. Wandisile Simelane
  • 10. Johan Goosen
  • 9. Embrose Papier
  • 1. Simphiwe Matanzima
  • 2. Jan-Hendrik Wessels
  • 3. Mornay Smith
  • 4. Walt Steenkamp
  • 5. Ruan Nortje
  • 6. Marcell Coetzee (captain)
  • 7. WJ Steenkamp
  • 8. Elrigh Louw


  • 16. Bismarck Du Plessis
  • 17. Dylan Smith
  • 18. Jacques van Rooyen
  • 19. Ruan Vermaak
  • 20. Marco Van Staden
  • 21. Zak Burger
  • 22. Chris Smith
  • 23. David Kriel

Referee: Mike Adamson [SRU].

Get instant updates on your province on The42 app. With Laya Healthcare, official health and wellbeing partner to Leinster, Munster and Connacht Rugby.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel