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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 23 April, 2019
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Arnold only man retained as Munster rest front-liners for Ulster clash

All but six members of Munster’s matchday squad in Bordeaux will rest up this weekend.

AFTER BEING SHELL shocked in their Champions Cup clash with Racing 92 last week, Munster head coach Johann van Graan has made 14 changes to his starting XV for tomorrow’s inter-pro clash with Ulster at Thomond Park (kick-off 17.35, TG4, BBC).

Johann van Graan Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The southern province left themselves too much to do after a horrendous start to their Champions Cup semi-final, but it will be the fringe members of the squad who get the chance to build on whatever momentum can be taken from the second half performance in the 27 – 22 loss.

Sam Arnold, sent off against his former club in the reverse fixture this season, is the only survivor from the team that started in Bordeaux. The bench contains five more men who were in the matchday squad on Sunday.

Dan Goggin will partner Arnold in midfield, with the fit-again Duncan Williams keeping James Hart among the replacements as he partners JJ Hanrahan at half-back.

Sevens international Shane Daly is in line to make his senior debut in the number 23 jersey, while Mike Sherry and James Cronin will both hit a century of caps.

Munster's Sammy Arnold Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Munster are locked in second place in Pro14 Conference A, but Ulster have stormed back into form in recent weeks and, with this weekend marking the final round of regular season matches, retain a slim hope of making the Pro14 playoffs after wins over Glasgow Warriors, Ospreys and Edinburgh – who currently occupy the last post-season place in Conference B and can seal it with a point against Glasgow

Head coach Jono Gibbes has lost the in-form John Cooney, Jean Deysel and Matt Rea to injury and Charles Piutau for family reasons,  but Rory Best returns to lead Ulster out in Limerick.

Craig Gilroy returns from club-imposed suspension.

Iain Henderson celebrates scoring the winning try with teammates Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

If Ulster get the results they want this weekend (a bonus point win and a zero-point return for Edinburgh) then they would return to Thomond Park for the Pro14 ‘quarter-finals’ next weekend.

As things stand, Munster will face Edinburgh in Limerick while Ulster go into a playoff for a Champions Cup place against Ospreys.

Munster:

15. Stephen Fitzgerald
14. Calvin Nash
13. Sammy Arnold
12. Dan Goggin
11. Darren Sweetnam
10. JJ Hanrahan
9. Duncan Williams

1. James Cronin
2. Mike Sherry (Capt.)
3. Brian Scott
4. Gerbrandt Grobler
5. Darren O’Shea
6. Dave O’Callaghan
7. Conor Oliver
8. Robin Copeland.

Replacements:

16. Rhys Marshall
17. Jeremy Loughman
18. Stephen Archer
19. Jean Kleyn
20. Jack O’Donoghue
21. James Hart
22. Bill Johnston
23. Shane Daly

Ulster

15. Louis Ludik
14. Craig Gilroy
13. Luke Marshall
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny McPhillips
9. Dave Shanahan

1. Callum Black
2. Rory Best Capt.
3. Ross Kane
4. Alan O’Connor
5. Iain Henderson
6. Clive Ross
7. Sean Reidy
8. Nick Timoney;

Replacements:

16. Rob Herring
17. Andy Warwick
18. Tom O’Toole
19. Kieran Treadwell
20. Chris Henry
21. Paul Marshall
22. Angus Curtis
23. Tommy Bowe.

Gibbes pleased to still have a sniff of Pro14 playoffs as he bids to complete miracle comeback in Munster

Munster speedster Fitzgerald desperate to seize his chance against Ulster

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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