Preview: Munster v Ospreys

Date published: September 26 2014

Munster boss Anthony Foley has made nine changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s clash with the Ospreys at Thomond Park.

The big news is that scrum-half Conor Murray has been promoted to captain for the Round 4 clash.

Loosehead prop Dave Kilcoyne makes his first start of the season with hooker Duncan Casey and tighthead BJ Botha remaining in the front row.

Donncha O’Callaghan comes into the second row for Billy Holland who has played every minute of this season’s PRO12 to date, and Munster’s most capped player will be partnered by Paul O’Connell who makes his second consecutive league start.

Paddy Butler retains responsibility at six, with Sean Dougall and CJ Stander returning to the starting line up at seven and eight respectively.

In the half backs Murray leads the side from scrum half, while Ian Keatley is back to take command of the 10 channel.

After impressing in the centre last time out against Zebre, Denis Hurley will again start at inside centre alongside Ivan Dineen who completes the midfield partnership.

Gerhard van den Heever has recovered from a knee injury to make his first appearance of the season on the left wing. The South African comes in for Simon Zebo, another who has played every minute of Munster’s league campaign to date.

Andrew Conway returns to the right wing with Johne Murphy starting at at full-back for the first time in this season’s PRO12.

A strong performance on his senior debut last Friday sees Year Three Academy player Jack O’Donoghue included amongst the replacements once again this weekend.

Meanwhile, Ospreys boss Steve Tandy, has made three changes to his side that claimed a 62-13 win over Edinburgh in their previous match.

Amongst the backs, Andrew Bishop takes over from Jonathan Spratt at outside centre and Eli Walker replaces Hanno Dirksen on the left wing.

Up front, the only change sees Joe Bearman coming in for James King on the blindside flank.

Tandy commented: “We’ve had a good start to the season, but we’ve got to remember that’s all it is, a start.

When you look at the run of fixtures coming up, from Munster this weekend through to the derby against the Blues at the Liberty in a couple of weeks and into Europe, it’s exciting but daunting at the same time.

“By this time next month we’ll have a much clearer picture of where this group actually is in terms of its development.

“Although we’ve got three wins from three, we realise that the performances have been far from perfect in many respects.

“It’s a pretty grounded group of players we’ve got and they aren’t getting carried away with themselves, they appreciate that there is plenty to improve on, plenty of work to do, and their attitude this week has been spot on.

“That’s very pleasing to see as a coach, and is exactly what we want to see.

“Looking at the weekend’s game, it’ll be a big step up from what we’ve had so far in terms of intensity. Munster at Thomond Park is always a difficult environment for an away team, so we know that we will have to prepare properly and be on top of our game out there.

“There’ll be tough moments, especially for a young team, but we know that they will give nothing less than 100 per cent for the cause, whatever the outcome.

“It’s going to be a fantastic experience for some of these young men who are still learning their trade, and is another big step forward in their development.”

Form: Munster have won their last two Guinness PRO12 encounters – both against Italian opponents. The Munstermen have not won three in a row in the competition since February. Last season Munster had a won 7, lost 1 record against Welsh regions, the single defeat being at the Scarlets in round 15. Table-topping Ospreys have won their last four PRO12 matches since tripping up to Zebre in Parma in May. Ospreys have been victorious in their last two games against Irish provinces but have not won three such successive games since February 2013. Munster are unbeaten in their last there encounters with Ospreys since the Welshmen’s victory at Liberty Stadium in September 2012. Ospreys have won just once in Limerick since April 2010: 17-13 in the PRO12 on 8 October 2011.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Johne Murphy, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Ivan Dineen, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray(c), 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Paddy Butler, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Andrew Smith.

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 James King, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Hanno Dirksen.

Date: Saturday, September 27
Kick-off: 18:30 BST
Venue: Thomond Park

Referee: Neil Hennessy (WRU, 20th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Gary Conway, Nigel Correll (both IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Gordon Black (IRFU)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (IRFU)