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Dublin: 4°C Thursday 13 May 2021
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Munster bring back the big Os while Henshaw boosts Connacht in New Year inter-pro

Pat Lam says has named a more physically imposing backline to counteract Munster.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Anthony Foley has recalled Paul O’Connell and captain Peter O’Mahony as part of five changes for tomorrow’s trip to face Connacht at the Sportsground.

O’Mahony returns in place of number eight Robin Copeland, allowing CJ Stander switch to number eight. Ireland captain O’Connell replaces his long-term second row partner Donncha O’Callaghan with Billy Holland retained to make his 100th appearance for the southern province.

Simon Zebo is named as a direct replacement for Felix Jones at fullback in a backline that also sees JJ Hanrahan installed in the centre outside of Ian Keatley and Duncan Williams.

The home side will also welcome back their international talents after a short winter break, centre Robbie Henshaw returns to partner Bundee Aki and Kieran Marmion will partner Craig Ronaldson at half back.

Having watched Munster come through each inter-pro unscathed this season, Connacht coach Pat Lam knows the challenge coming to meet them at the Sportsground. But he is happy to adapt his gameplan to counteract Foley’s side.

“I’ve always said that it is so important that we are comfortable adapting our style of play to suit the different conditions and opposition over a long season. Tomorrow we face a very direct and physical Munster side with an excellent kicking game,” Lam says on ConnachtRugby.ie.

“The changes to our own team reflect the game plan we have devised to try and combat the big challenge ahead.

“Having the physicality of Craig (Ronaldson), Robbie (Henshaw) and Bundee (Aki) in the front line will be key to our defence tomorrow. And the selection of the back three of Mils (Muliaina), Darragh (Leader) and Danie (Poolman) is directly linked to the quality of Munster’s aerial threat and the tough weather conditions expected.

“It’s been six years since we’ve beaten Munster and only once in the last 41 meetings. We know how big a test this is. It’s going to be a very special atmosphere at a sold out Sportsground and like our supporters, we are all massively excited for this game.”

 

Connacht XV

15. Mils Muliaina
14. Darragh Leader
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Danie Poolman
10. Craig Ronaldson
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Buckley
2. Tom McCartney
3. Rodney Ah You
4. Quinn Roux
5. Aly Muldowney
6. John Muldoon (captain)
7. Willie Faloon
8. Eoin McKeon

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. JP Cooney
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Ultan Dillane
20. George Naoupu
21.  John Cooney
22. Miah Nikora
23. Dave McSharry

Munster XV

15. Simon Zebo

14. Andrew Conway

13. Pat Howard

12. JJ Hanrahan

11. Ronan O’Mahony

10. Ian Keatley

9. Duncan Williams

1. John Ryan

2. Duncan Casey

3. BJ Botha

4. Billy Holland

5. Paul O’Connell

6. Peter O’Mahony (Capt)

7. Tommy O’Donnell

8. CJ Stander.

Replacements:

16. Kevin O’Byrne

17. Eusebio Guinazu

18. Stephen Archer

19. Donncha O’Callaghan

20. Dave O’Callaghan

21 Neil Cronin

22. Rory Scannell

23. Ivan Dineen.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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