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Healy gets chance to steer heavily-rotated Munster team against Scarlets

Johann van Graan’s much-changed side face a tough task in Wales.

Healy starts at 10 for Munster.
Healy starts at 10 for Munster.
Image: Andy Watts/INPHO

THE LAST TIME Munster were away to the Scarlets, they needed Ben Healy to come off the bench and blast them to victory with a brilliant show of composure from the kicking tee, including his winning penalty with the clock in the red.

Just over a year on, Healy will be in the starting number 10 shirt as Munster look for another victory at Parc y Scarlets today [KO 2pm, RTÉ/Premier Sports/URC TV].

Head coach Johann van Graan has opted for heavy rotation, with 11 changes to his team after wins against the Sharks and Stormers on the opening two weekends of the United Rugby Championship.

It is not a first-choice Munster selection but van Graan will hope to see some of his combinations take their opportunities as many of the bigger names remain at home in Limerick.

In truth, the likes of Healy have earned their starting chances here. The 22-year-old has done well off the bench over the past fortnight, with his cannon of a right boot as impressive as ever, and will relish this opening to put pressure on Joey Carbery.

The athletic, skillful Waterford man Thomas Ahern gets just his third senior start for the province in the second row and will be keen to show his growing maturity as he pushes for exposure in the biggest games this season.

23-year-old Jack O’Sullivan is another with an opportunity to shine in what is a competitive area of the squad in the back row, the Cork man teaming up with captain Jack O’Donoghue and openside Chris Cloete for this clash.

RG Snyman’s latest appearance off the bench is sure to be of interest again, while youngsters Jack Daly, Alex Kendellen, and Jack Crowley possess promise.

ken-owens Ken Owens returns for Scarlets. Source: Alex James/INPHO

All of that said, this is a Munster selection that the Scarlets will believe they can beat.

Dwayne Peel’s men are coming off a home 36-13 win over the Lions of South Africa and have welcomed British and Irish Lions pair Gareth Davies and Ken Owens back into their starting XV for today, with Wyn Jones also returning on the bench.

Wales-capped Aaron Shingler is back from injury in the second row, there’s another international addition to the team in tighthead Samson Lee, and Lloyd Ashley gets his debut at lock, but otherwise Peel has kept faith with last weekend’s winning side.

20-year-old Sam Costelow is a fine prospect at out-half, while experienced number eight Sione Kalamafoni is in good form.

Given the fact that Scarlets are at home with what is essentially their strongest available team, their status as favourites for this one is deserved.

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Having made wholesale changes to their side, a win here for Munster would be impressive.

Scarlets:

  • 15. Johnny McNicholl
  • 14. Tom Rogers
  • 13. Jonathan Davies (captain)
  • 12. Scott Williams
  • 11. Steff Evans
  • 10. Sam Costelow
  • 9. Gareth Davies
  • 1. Rob Evans
  • 2. Ken Owens
  • 3. Samson Lee
  • 4. Aaron Shingler
  • 5. Lloyd Ashley
  • 6. Blade Thomson
  • 7. Dan Davis
  • 8. Sione Kalamafoni

Replacements:

  • 16. Ryan Elias
  • 17. Wyn Jones
  • 18. WillGriff John
  • 19. Tom Price
  • 20. Shaun Evans
  • 21. Kieran Hardy
  • 22. Dan Jones
  • 23. Johnny Williams

Munster:

  • 15. Matt Gallagher
  • 14. Calvin Nash
  • 13. Liam Coombes
  • 12. Dan Goggin
  • 11. Shane Daly
  • 10. Ben Healy
  • 9. Neil Cronin
  • 1. Jeremy Loughman
  • 2. Diarmuid Barron
  • 3. Stephen Archer
  • 4. Thomas Ahern
  • 5. Fineen Wycherley
  • 6. Jack O’Donoghue (captain)
  • 7. Chris Cloete
  • 8. Jack O’Sullivan

Replacements:

  • 16. Kevin O’Byrne
  • 17. Josh Wycherley
  • 18. John Ryan
  • 19. RG Snyman
  • 20. Alex Kendellen
  • 21. Paddy Patterson
  • 22. Jack Crowley
  • 23. Jack Daly

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey chat all things Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster — and welcome back the AIL — on The42 Rugby Weekly


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Murray Kinsella

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