Earls back for Munster as Loughman gets start at loosehead against Ospreys

Tadhg Beirne is set for his first appearance of the season off the bench in Wales.

MUNSTER BOSS JOHANN van Graan has named Keith Earls in his starting team for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup opener against the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium in Swansea [KO 5.30pm, BT Sport].

Having been away at the World Cup, the Ireland wing will make his first appearance of the season on the left wing for Munster as they look to start their European season with a win on the road in Wales.

keith-earls-celebrates-his-try Earls returns to the Munster team. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

With Ireland international Dave Kilcoyne missing out through injury, Jeremy Loughman is handed a start at loosehead prop, while Tommy O’Donnell comes into the team at openside flanker. 

In total, van Graan has made five changes to the team that beat Ulster at Thomond Park in the Pro14 last weekend, with Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal starting in the halfback slots as expected.

Bleyendaal takes over in the number 10 shirt with both Joey Carbery and JJ Hanrahan missing through injury, and van Graan has opted against naming 20-year-old out-half Ben Healy on the bench.

Instead, centre Rory Scannell or Murray will provide cover for Bleyendaal.

Ireland international Tadhg Beirne is included on the Munster bench and is set for his first appearance since his return from the World Cup.  

Meanwhile, Allen Clarke’s Ospreys are missing key men George North, Justin Tipuric, Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Beard, and Owen Watkin after their involvement in the World Cup with Wales.


15. Mike Haley
14. Andrew Conway
13. Chris Farrell
12. Rory Scannell
11. Keith Earls
10. Tyler Bleyendaal
9. Conor Murray

1. Jeremy Loughman
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Jean Kleyn
5. Billy Holland
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Tommy O’Donnell
8. CJ Stander


16. Kevin O’Byrne
17. James Cronin
18. Stephen Archer
19. Tadhg Beirne
20. Arno Botha
21. Alby Mathewson
22. Sammy Arnold
23. Dan Goggin

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15. Cai Evans
14. Hanno Dirksen
13. Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler
12. Scott Williams
11. Tom Williams
10. Luke Price
9. Shaun Venter

1. Rhodri Jones
2. Scott Otten
3. Ma’afu Fia
4. Marvin Orie
5. Lloyd Ashley
6. Dan Lydiate (captain)
7. Olly Cracknell
8. Morgan Morris


16. Ifan Phillips
17. Nicky Smith
18. Gheorghe Gajion
19. Bradley Davies
20. Sam Cross
21. Aled Davies
22. James Hook
23. Kieran Williams

Referee: Karl Dickson [England].

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