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Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
James Crombie/INPHO Crowley is set for his first Munster start.
# Prospect
Talented Cork man Crowley gets Munster out-half audition against Ospreys
Ronan O’Gara tried to bring the Cork Con playmaker to La Rochelle.

THE MUNSTER OUT-half debate has focused on Joey Carbery and Ben Healy in recent weeks, but tonight sees Jack Crowley getting a chance to remind everyone just how talented he is.

The 21-year-old will make his first Munster start away to the Ospreys in the URC [KO 7.35pm, RTÉ 2/Premier Sports/URC TV] after head coach Johann van Graan named him in the number 10 shirt.

A standout player with the Ireland U20s last year, as well as with Bandon Grammar School and Cork Con, Crowley is a highly-rated prospect. 

Indeed, Ronan O’Gara tried to bring him over to La Rochelle ahead of this season but Innishannon man Crowley’s rugby dreams have long revolved around the red jersey of his native province and the green one of his homeland. 

Of course, rugby is the epitome of a team sport and Crowley – who played at fullback for Con in the AIL last weekend – will be well aware of not trying to win this game at Swansea.com Stadium on his own.

22-year-old Craig Casey is the veteran of the halfback pairing in what is another exciting Munster team selection.

Centres Dan Goggin and Liam Coombes will need to take some pressure off Crowley, while wing pair Andrew Conway and Shane Daly offer more experience out wide as Matt Gallagher rotates in at fullback.

The Munster back row is a particular strength with Tadhg Beirne dropping into the blindside flanker slot as captain Peter O’Mahony wears the number seven shirt and the in-form Jack O’Donoghue comes in at number eight.

tadhg-beirne Billy Stickland / INPHO Beirne moves to the number six shirt as O'Mahony starts at seven. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Jean Kleyn and Fineen Wycherley, who have been excellent recently, form a combative lock pairing, while Munster can also call on a very strong bench that includes Lions scrum-half Conor Murray and Springboks centre Damian de Allende.

Both are set for their first Munster appearances of the season before departing on international duty for the November Tests, with Murray in need of a good run-out after his delayed return to action.

There is also a very welcome return from injury for exciting 22-year-old back row John Hodnett, who has featured for UCC in the AIL in recent weeks following his recovery from a ruptured Achilles tendon. He is another big prospect for Munster.

There’s more firepower with Gavin Coombes, Josh Wycherley, Kevin O’Bryne, Ben Healy and Keynan Knox to be launched as replacements, meaning Munster will have some confidence about continuing their winning streak as they conclude this five-week URC block.

The Ospreys are coming off a heartening win away to Benetton and have experienced operators like captain Rhys Webb, out-half Stephen Myler and wing Alex Cuthbert in their starting XV.

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Former Ireland U20 lock Jack Regan, once of the Leinster underage system and then the Ulster academy, is set for his debut off the bench having joined the Welsh region during the summer from the Highlanders and Otago in New Zealand.

The 24-year-old Birr man will be motivated to prove a point against Irish opposition but the Ospreys have a tough task ahead of them versus a Munster team that has some momentum.

Ospreys:

  • 15. Max Nagy
  • 14. Alex Cuthbert
  • 13. Owen Watkin
  • 12. Keiran Williams
  • 11. Mat Protheroe
  • 10. Stephen Myler
  • 9. Rhys Webb (captain)
  • 1. Nicky Smith
  • 2. Elvis Taione
  • 3. Tom Botha
  • 4. Bradley Davies
  • 5. Rhys Davies
  • 6. Sam Cross
  • 7. Jac Morgan
  • 8. Ethan Roots

Replacements:

  • 16. Ifan Phillips
  • 17. Gareth Thomas
  • 18. Rhys Henry
  • 19. Jack Regan
  • 20. Morgan Morris
  • 21. Reuben Morgan-Williams
  • 22. Joe Hawkins
  • 23. Dan Evans

Munster:

  • 15. Matt Gallagher
  • 14. Andrew Conway
  • 13. Liam Coombes
  • 12. Dan Goggin
  • 11. Shane Daly
  • 10. Jack Crowley
  • 9. Craig Casey
  • 1. Jeremy Loughman
  • 2. Niall Scannell
  • 3. John Ryan
  • 4. Jean Kleyn
  • 5. Fineen Wycherley
  • 6. Tadhg Beirne
  • 7. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
  • 8. Jack O’Donoghue

Replacements:

  • 16. Kevin O’Byrne
  • 17. Josh Wycherley
  • 18. Keynan Knox
  • 19. Gavin Coombes
  • 20. John Hodnett
  • 21. Conor Murray
  • 22. Ben Healy
  • 23. Damian de Allende 

Referee: Hollie Davidson [SRU].

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