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Preview: Munster v Ulster

09th May 2014 13:10

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Dan Tuohy: Captaining Ulster

Munster coach Rob Penney has made ten personnel changes to his side for Saturday's Pro12 clash with Ulster at Thomond Park.

With the squad's strength in depth Penney has revamped the starting line-up that comprehensively defeated Edinburgh last weekend.

In the front row Dave Kilcoyne and Damien Varley come in for James Cronin and Duncan Casey respectively with John Ryan retaining his place at tight-head. Duncan Casey, who was replaced after 30 minutes against Edinburgh, met with a specialist on Thursday and is undergoing surgery on Friday on his right shoulder.

Dave Foley teams up with Paul O'Connell in the second row while Paddy Butler moves from 8 to 6 with Sean Dougall and number eight James Coughlan completing the back row.

Duncan Williams starts alongside Ian Keatley in the half backs, while the midfield sees the return of James Downey and Casey Laulala.

Simon Zebo switches back to the 11 jersey with Gerhard Van Den Heever on the opposite wing and Felix Jones occupies the full back position having sat out last weekend's Edinburgh encounter.

Meanwhile, Dan Tuohy will captain Ulster. The Ireland international second-row has captained Ulster for brief periods in matches before, but this interprovincial clash will be the first time that he has lead the Province from the start of a game, something which the 28 year-old views as a huge honour:

"Mark Anscombe pulled me to one side on Monday and said that I was going to captain the team - I was delighted. For me, I am just going to concentrate on my own game, get the lads behind me and hopefully we can put in a decent performance tomorrow night," said Tuohy

Tuohy's inclusion is one of 12 changes that Anscombe has made to the side that played Leinster at Ravenhill last week.

There is a completely new backline, with Craig Gilroy starting at full-back, David McIlwaine selected on the right wing and Michael Allen and Academy Player of the Year, Stuart McCloskey, starting in the centre.

Rory Scholes is named on the left wing, with James McKinney starting at outhalf and Michael Heaney picked at scrum-half.

Up front, Callum Black starts at loosehead, with Rob Herring and Andrew Warwick keeping their places in the front row.

Lewis Stevenson partners Tuohy in the second row, while Mike McComish and Sean Doyle start either side of Nick Williams in the back row.

Bronson Ross has recovered from neck surgery and is selected on the bench along with fellow forwards Kyle McCall, Adam Macklin, Neil McComb and Conor Joyce. Backs, David Shanahan, Ricky Andrew and Peter Nelson complete the squad.

Form: Munster are guaranteed a top three finish, but a victory and other results going in their favour could see them finish in top spot. The Munstermen's last three matches in the RaboDirect PRO12 have all been won by the away side on the day, whilst they were defeated by Glasgow at Thomond Park in their most recent home game but have not lost back to back contests in Limerick in the competition since April 2010. Ulster have already ensured they will finish fourth in the table but have won only one of their last four PRO12 matches: at home to Connacht in round 19. The Ulstermen have lost their last two away games, at Cardiff Blues and at Glasgow. Ulster beat Munster 29-19 at Ravenhill in round 12, and have not achieved a season's double over the Munstermen since 2008/09.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 James Coughlan. 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Paddy Butler, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Dave Foley, 3 John Ryan, 2 Damien Varley (c), 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 James Cronin, 18 Alan Cotter, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Conor Murray, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Keith Earls

Ulster: 15 Craig Gilroy, 14 David McIlwaine, 13 Michael Allen, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Rory Scholes, 10 James McKinney, 9 Michael Heaney, 8 Nick Williams; 7 Sean Doyle, 6 Mike McComish, 5 Dan Tuohy (Captain), 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Andrew Warwick, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Kyle McCall, 17 Bronson Ross, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Neil McComb, 20 Conor Joyce, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Ricky Andrew, 23 Peter Nelson.

Date: Saturday, April 10
Venue: Thomond Park
Kick-off: 18.30 BST
Referee:Nigel Owens (WRU)

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