Preview: Munster v Leicester

Date published: December 11 2015

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Munster boss Anthony Foley has made nine changes to his starting XV for Saturday's Champions Cup clash against Leicester Tigers.

In the front-row James Cronin and BJ Botha return to scrum down on either side of hooker Niall Scannell who makes his first European appearance this weekend.

The returning Donnacha Ryan joins Dave Foley in the second-row while Robin Copeland and CJ Stander are named alongside Dave O'Callaghan in the back-row.

Named at blindside, this will be Copeland's first Champions Cup start for the province, while Stander returns to captain the side from number eight.

A changed half-back pairing sees Conor Murray and Ian Keatley renew their partnership after Murray successfully rehabbed a bruised bone he sustained during the round one encounter against Treviso.

The further changes to the backline see Francis Saili, Keith Earls and Andrew Conway all named. Saili starts with Denis Hurley in midfield while Simon Zebo is joined by Earls and Conway in the back three.

Mike Sherry is included in the replacements after rehabbing a knee injury he sustained in the opening round against Treviso while Tyler Bleyendaal is in line to make his European debut if sprung from the bench.

Meanwhile, Brendon O'Connor and Lachlan McCaffrey return to join captain Ed Slater in the back-row for Leicester.

With Slater at flanker, Graham Kitchener partners Mike Fitzgerald at lock and Marcos Ayerza returns to an all-international front-row.

Ben Youngs returns at scrum-half alongside Owen Williams and there is only one other change in the back five from the team that gained a bonus-point win at Worcester Warriors last weekend with Matt Smith replacing Peter Betham at centre.

Argentina international wing Gonzalo Camacho is in line for his competitive debut for the club after being named among the replacements.

Tigers will be in the club's home kit at Thomond Park.

Form: Munster have one of the best records on home soil in the Champions Cup, having won 62 of their 66 home matches in the competition. The Irish province are in the midst of a mini slump, however, having lost two consecutive PRO12 fixtures for the first time since May 2014. Thes two sides have faced each other on four previous occasions in Europe and neither side has won at their home ground. The Tigers have won their last four matches in all competitions. That includes a fightback from 17-0 down to beat Worcester 29-20 last weekend. That result equalled Leicester's biggest points turnaround in their history.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander (c), 7 Dave O'Callaghan, 6 Robin Copeland, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Dave Foley, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Mark Chisholm, 20 Jack O'Donoghue, 21 Tomás O'Leary, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Seremaia Bai, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Ed Slater (c), 5 Mike Fitzgerald, 4 Graham Kitchener, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Dom Barrow, 20 Tom Croft, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Gonzalo Camacho.

Date: Saturday, December 12
Venue: Thomond Park
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Tual Trainini (France), Laurent Breil (France)
TMO: Gilles Cogne (France)

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