Preview: Dragons v Munster

Date published: December 4 2015

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Newport Gwent Dragons captain Thomas Rhys Thomas has returned to full fitness and will take on Munster in the PRO12.

The hooker injured his foot against Zebre in September and will return to play for the Dragons on Sunday.

The 33-year-old has recently played in the British and Irish Cup for the Dragons Premiership Select side and joins five other personnel changes that have been made to the team.

Commenting on the return of Thomas Rhys Thomas, Director of Rugby Lyn Jones said: "It's a big relief for us to have 'TRT' back.

"He has been appointed captain for his leadership and maturity. We have missed those qualities in our side dreadfully.

"Elliot Dee has played very well and has shown the promise time and time again but at this stage we need to have Rhys back in."

The back line remains unchanged with full-back Carl Meyer joining wings Tom Prydie and Ashton Hewitt. The centre pairing also receives the nod from the coaching staff as Adam Hughes and Adam Warren are selected. The half-backs see one change made as fly-half Dorian Jones is joined by scrum-half Sarel Pretorius.

The front row has two changes made to it, as Boris Stankovich is joined by skipper Thomas Rhys Thomas and tight-head prop Brok Harris. Matthew Screech and Rynard Landman remain in the second row, as three changes are made to the back row.

Flankers Lewis Evans and Nic Cudd return to the starting XV and are joined by Wales star Taulupe Faletau. 

Meanwhile, head coach Anthony Foley has made ten changes to the side that lost to Connacht in naming his side for Sunday's clash.

Denis Hurley is named as captain while Niall and Rory Scannell will become the first brothers to start together for Munster in the PRO12.

Niall Scannell remains at hooker with Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan returning to the front row while Dave Foley resumes his partnership with Mark Chisholm in the second row.

Two changes in the back row see blindside flanker Shane Buckley make his first start of the season with Dave O'Callaghan returning at openside and Robin Copeland remaining in situ at number eight.

Tomás O'Leary continues at scrum-half and the selection of Rory Scannell at 10 for the first time in the current campaign completes an all-Dolphin RFC half-back pairing.

Scannell is one of two academy players included for this weekend's encounter with David Johnston starting alongside captain Denis Hurley for the second time this season.

Simon Zebo and Ronan O'Mahony return to the back three on the left and right wing respectively with Lucas González Amorosino switching to full-back.

Having successfully rehabbed a quad strain, Tyler Bleyendaal is named on the bench.

Form: Newport Gwent Dragons only win in their last six PRO12 encounters was 19-12 at home to Treviso in Round 5.The Dragons were defeated by Ulster at Rodney Parade in Round 7 which ended a five game winning run at the venue in the tournament. Munster suffered only their second reversal this season with their home loss to table topping Connacht on Saturday. Munster's only defeat in their last five away games in the PRO12 was 22-25 at Scarlets in Round 5. Dragons have won just one of their last nine encounters with Munster: 30-24 at Rodney Parade in April 2013 whilst Munster's record at the venue in the tournament is an even won six, lost six.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Taulupe Faletau, Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Thomas Rhys Thomas (c), 1 Boris Stankovich
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Phil Price, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Ed Jackson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Ross Wardle

Munster: 15 Lucas González Amorosino, 14 Ronan O'Mahony, 13 David Johnston, 12 Denis Hurley (c), 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Rory Scannell, 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Robin Copeland,  7 Dave O'Callaghan, 6 Shane Buckley, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Dave Foley, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Kevin O'Byrne, 17 James Cronin, 18 Mario Sagario, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Jordan Coghlan, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Gerhard van den Heever

Date: Sunday, December 6
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales), Daniel Jones (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)

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