Champions Cup team news: Oli Jager to make first European start for Munster

James Ryan and Harry Byrne in for Leinster’s trip to Leicester; Ulster switch two in the backrow for away game against Harlequins

Munster have made one change for their final Champions Cup Pool 3 game against Northampton Saints at Thomond Park on Saturday (5.30, RTÉ and TNT Sports) as recent signing Oli Jager returns from injury at tighthead prop.

Munster go into the game qualified for the last 16 but also in with a long-shot chance of a home draw. In order to secure a game at Thomond Park, they would need to beat Northampton with a bonus point and hope that Exeter emerge with no match points from their game in Bayonne on Sunday evening.

Jager has completed his return to play protocols and comes in for his first Champions Cup start and fifth appearance since his arrival from the Crusaders.

Tadhg Beirne captains the team as all nine Munster players who were named in the Ireland squad and training panel for the Six Nations are named in the squad.


The unchanged backline includes three of last week’s try scorers from the brilliant away win against Toulon in Alex Nankivell, Calvin Nash and Simon Zebo.

Zebo, Nash and Shane Daly start together in the back three with Nankivell and Antoine Frisch continuing their centre partnership. Ireland internationals Craig Casey and Jack Crowley are named in the halfbacks.

Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell and Jager pack down in the frontrow with Tom Ahern, a try-scorer last week, and Beirne in the engine room. New Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony, John Hodnett and Gavin Coombes complete the side.

Eoghan Clarke, Josh Wycherley and John Ryan provide the frontrow backup. First-year academy backrow forward Brian Gleeson is in line for his ninth appearance of the season off the bench and was named in the Ireland U20s squad for the Six Nations this week. Alex Kendellen completes the forward cover. Conor Murray, Joey Carbery and Seán O’Brien are the backline replacements.

In player news, replacement hooker Eoghan Clarke, who joined Munster on a short-term deal in November, has signed a contract extension that will keep him at the province until the end of the season.

There are two changes to the Leinster starting team that defeated Stade Francais last weekend for Saturday’s trip to Welford Road to take on Leicester (3.15pm, TNT Sports).

Co-captain James Ryan returns in place of Jason Jenkins, while Harry Byrne replaces the injured Ciarán Frawley at outhalf.

Hugo Keenan starts once more at fullback, with Jordan Larmour and James Lowe named on the wings. Larmour is in line to win his 99th Leinster cap, in the week where he earned a call-up into Ireland’s Six Nations squad.

Co-captain Garry Ringrose is joined by Robbie Henshaw in the centre, with Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park completing the backline.

In the pack, Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong join Dan Sheehan in the frontrow, with Ryan partnering Joe McCarthy in the secondrow. Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris complete the pack.

Among the replacements, Ross Molony is set to make his first European appearance of the season.

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland makes two changes to his backrow for Saturday’s trip to The Stoop to play Harlequins on Saturday afternoon (1.0, TNT Sports).

Matty Rea comes in for Dave Ewers on the blindside, while openside David McCann returns to the team after recovering from an ankle injury and takes the No 7 jersey from Sean Reffell.

After a heavy home defeat to at home to Toulouse, Ulster need to beat Harlequins to guarantee their place in the Last 16.

McFarland has opted for a 5-3 split among the replacements.

MUNSTER (v Northampton): Simon Zebo; Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Alex Nankivell, Shane Daly; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, Oli Jager; Tom Ahern, Tadhg Beirne (capt); Peter O’Mahony, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Brian Gleeson, Alex Kendellen, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Seán O’Brien.

NORTHAMPTON: George Furbank (capt); Tommy Freeman, Fraser Dingwall, Rory Hutchinson, Ollie Sleightholme; Fin Smith, Alex Mitchell; Alex Waller, Curtis Langdon, Trevor Davison; Temo Mayanavanua, Alex Coles; Courtney Lawes, Tom Pearson, Juarno Augustus.

Replacements: Robbie Smith, Emmanuel Iyogun, Elliot Millar-Mills, Alex Moon, Sam Graham, Tom James, Burger Odendaal, Charlie Savala.

Referee: Tual Trainini (Fra).

LEICESTER (v Leinster): Freddie Steward; Harry Simmons, Matt Scott, Dan Kelly, Ollie Hassell-Collins; Handre Pollard, Tom Whiteley; James Cronin, Julian Montoya (capt), Joe Heyes; Harry Wells, Ollie Chessum; Hanro Liebenberg, Tommy Reffell, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements: Archie Vanes, Francois van Wyk, Will Hurd, Sam Carter, Kyle Hatherell, Ben Youngs, Jamie Shillcock, Solomone Kata.

LEINSTER: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose (co-capt), Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Harry Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Joe McCarthy (27), James Ryan (co-capt); Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Sam Prendergast, Tommy O’Brien.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Ita).

HARLEQUINS (v Ulster): Tyrone Green; Nick David, Oscar Beard, Andre Esterhuizen, Cameron Anderson; Marcus Smith, Danny Care; Joe Marler, Jack Walker, Will Collier; Irne Herbst, George Hammond; Chandler Cunningham-South, Will Evans, Alex Dombrandt (capt).

Replacements: Sam Riley, Fin Baxter, Dillon Lewis, Joe Launchbury, Archie White, Will Porter, Lennox Anyanwu, Will Joseph.

ULSTER: Mike Lowry; Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Steven Kitshoff, Tom Stewart, Tom O’Toole; Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson (capt); Matty Rea, David McCann, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Marty Moore, Harry Sheridan, Marcus Rea, Nathan Doak, Luke Marshall, Will Addison.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (Fra)

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