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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 20 April, 2019
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Johnston gets his chance in the Munster 10 jersey as Haley starts at fullback

Johann van Graan’s side host Exeter Chiefs in Cork tomorrow evening.

BILL JOHNSTON WILL be hoping to make a big impression on Johann van Graan when he starts in the number 10 jersey for Munster’s final pre-season friendly against Exeter Chiefs on Friday evening [7.30pm].

The 21-year-old comes into the starting XV as one of six changes from last week’s win over London Irish, with new signing Mike Haley set to make his first Munster start at fullback.

Alex Wootton and Bill Johnston Johnston (right) starts for Munster tomorrow night. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Johnston, who made four substitute appearances in the Pro14 last season, is given the chance to stake his claim for selection after being preferred to JJ Hanrahan and Ian Keatley, who are both named on an extended bench.

The Clonmel native is highly-regarded at the southern province and with both Joey Carbery and Tyler Bleyendaal still unavailable, a strong performance against Exeter at Musgrave Park could put Johnston in the frame for the campaign opener against Cheetahs on Saturday week.

Haley, meanwhile, will start at fullback after an impressive cameo off the bench last week following his summer arrival from Sale Sharks, with Darren Sweetnam and Calvin Nash retained on the wings.

James Hart will form the half-back pairing with Johnston and appears to be the frontrunner to start the season at scrum-half ahead of Duncan Williams and Neil Cronin.

Billy Holland captains the side for the southern province’s final hit-out before the new season, with Mike Sherry promoted to the starting berth at hooker after scoring two tries off the bench last week.

Jean Kleyn joins Holland in the second row while the back row of Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell and academy number eight Gavin Coombes remains unchanged.

There are four academy players among the replacements — Sean O’Connor, Jack Daly, Shane Daly and Liam Coombes — as van Graan casts his net wide ahead of the visit of the Cheetahs to Thomond Park.

Munster:

15. Mike Haley
14. Darren Sweetnam
13. Dan Goggin
12. Rory Scannell
11. Calvin Nash
10. Bill Johnston
9. James Hart

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Mike Sherry
3. Brian Scott
4. Jean Kleyn
5. Billy Holland (captain)
6. Dave O’Callaghan
7. Tommy O’Donnell
8. Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Cronan Gleeson, Ciaran Parker, Fineen Wycherley, Darren O’Shea, Sean O’Connor, Jack Daly, Arno Botha, Neil Cronin, JJ Hanrahan, Ian Keatley, Shane Daly, Sammy Arnold, Liam Coombes, Stephen Fitzgerald.

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Ryan Bailey

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