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James Crombie/INPHO Joey Carbery leads Munster from the number 10 shirt.
Munster locked-and-loaded for massive night in Edinburgh
The Scots have named a strong side for this evening’s URC clash.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 2nd 2022, 8:56 AM

WITH TOULOUSE COMING to Limerick next weekend for a highly-anticipated Champions Cup clash, it might have been the case in seasons gone by that Munster would have rested a few key men for a fixture like the one this evening.

Times have changed. Firstly, the URC is a much more competitive beast, so Munster know they can’t afford to take their visit to Edinburgh [KO 7.35pm, TG4/URC TV] lightly. The Scots have loaded up with their internationalists, so a battle awaits. 

More pertinently, Munster have left themselves with no room for telling their main men to put the feet up for the weekend. Five defeats in their opening eight games mean they are still outside the play-off spots, albeit by just two match points. Those five defeats mean that virtually every game for the remainder of the URC regular season is a must-win. For Graham Rowntree’s men, there is little margin for error.

That’s why last weekend’s win at home to Connacht was so important, giving them another injection of momentum following the province’s impressive win over South Africa A in Cork last month.

Back-to-back wins for the first time this season were very welcome because losing can become a habit that is very hard to shake. Rowntree readily pointed out that Munster’s win over the South Africans doesn’t count for league points but it was exactly what they needed.

The pressure has lifted, but only slightly. A first away win of the season would make a massive difference. It’s one thing beating teams in Cork and Limerick, another thing doing it on the road.

Mike Blair’s Edinburgh lost away to Benetton last time out but have restored their best players to the starting XV for tonight. A back three made up of Kiwi fullback Wes Goosen and Scotland wings Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham is dangerous. Halfbacks Ben Vellacott and Blair Kinghorn are capable of attacking brilliance if their pack gets on top.

darcy-graham Evan Treacy / INPHO Darcy Graham has been in sizzling form. Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

With Scottish internationals like abrasive flanker Jamie Ritchie, influential lock Grant Gilchrist, and punchy loosehead Pierre Schoeman, as well as Fiji number eight Viliame Mata, there is some quality in the Edinburgh pack, although Hamish Watson is likely to be missed.

So Munster arrive locked-and-loaded with their best available team. Rowntree and the other provincial coaches are entitled to pick their Ireland internationals for seven of the nine games from last weekend through to 21/22 January, so they have to be sensible with selection.

The only thing that makes sense for Munster right now is doing their utmost to claw back ground in the URC table, so captain Peter O’Mahony, Tadhg Beirne, and Joey Carbery start again after helping them to beat Connacht last weekend.

Rowntree brings Simon Zebo’s experience, finishing prowess, and left boot back on the wing, there’s an all-new front row of Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell and John Ryan, while Gavin Coombes is restored at number eight.

Perhaps the most exciting part of this Munster team right now is outside centre Antoine Frisch, who showed glimpses of his creativity last weekend and keeps high-profile summer signing Malakai Fekitoa out of the team again.

A Munster bench including Roman Salanoa, Alex Kendellen, and Jack Crowley offers plenty of promise ahead of a game that most people expect to go down to the wire. 

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Victory for the Munster would leave them nestled in the URC play-off spots as they turn their attention to Europe with genuine momentum behind them, but defeat would drop them back into the doldrums. There’s so much on the line tonight for Rowntree’s side.

Edinburgh

  • 15. Wes Goosen
  • 14. Darcy Graham
  • 13. Mark Bennett
  • 12. Chris Dean
  • 11. Duhan van der Merwe
  • 10. Blair Kinghorn
  • 9. Ben Vellacott
  • 1. Pierre Schoeman
  • 2. Patrick Harrison
  • 3. Luan de Bruin
  • 4. Jamie Hodgson
  • 5. Grant Gilchrist (co-captain)
  • 6. Jamie Ritchie (co-captain)
  • 7. Luke Crosbie
  • 8. Viliame Mata

Replacements:

  • 16. Tom Cruse
  • 17. Boan Venter
  • 18. WP Nel
  • 19. Marshall Sykes
  • 20. Nick Haining
  • 21. Charlie Shiel
  • 22. Jaco van der Walt
  • 23. James Lang

Munster:

  • 15. Shane Daly
  • 14. Calvin Nash
  • 13. Antoine Frisch
  • 12. Rory Scannell
  • 11. Simon Zebo
  • 10. Joey Carbery
  • 9. Craig Casey
  • 1. Jeremy Loughman
  • 2. Niall Scannell
  • 3. John Ryan
  • 4 Jean Kleyn
  • 5. Tadhg Beirne
  • 6. Peter O’Mahony (Captain)
  • 7. John Hodnett
  • 8. Gavin Coombes

Replacements:

  • 16. Diarmuid Barron
  • 17. Josh Wycherley
  • 18. Roman Salanoa
  • 19. Jack O’Donoghue
  • 20. Alex Kendellen
  • 21. Paddy Patterson
  • 22. Jack Crowley
  • 23. Patrick Campbell

Referee: Mathieu Raynal [FFR].

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