RugbyTeam news

URC team news: Munster welcome back Ireland stars for clash with Cardiff

Connacht change seven for trip to Italy; Ulster must do without Iain Henderson for clash with Stormers

Munster have made six changes from the side that beat Ospreys last weekend for Saturday night’s URC against Cardiff at Thomond Park (7.35pm).

Ireland internationals Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony and Jack Crowley all return to the starting XV. Beirne captains the side with Stephen Archer, Jeremy Loughman and Alex Nankivell also coming back into the starting XV.

The back three of Mike Haley, Seán O’Brien and Shane Daly is unchanged as Nankivell and Antoine Frisch renew their centre partnership, with Craig Casey and Crowley in the halfbacks.

Loughman, Niall Scannell and Archer form the frontrow as RG Snyman and Beirne start together in the engine room. O’Mahony, John Hodnett and Gavin Coombes complete the side.


Calvin Nash (leg) was unavailable after picking up a knock in training.

MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Seán O’Brien, Antoine Frisch, Alex Nankivell, Shane Daly; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; RG Snyman, Tadhg Beirne (capt); Peter O’Mahony, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Tom Ahern, Alex Kendellen, Ethan Coughlan, Joey Carbery, Simon Zebo.

Connacht head coach Pete Wilkins has made seven changes to the side that lost last weekend to the Lions for the trip to Italy to face Benetton Rugby at Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso on Saturday afternoon (1pm Irish time).

There are two changes in the frontrow as Jordan Duggan comes in at loosehead and Dave Heffernan at hooker, while Shamus Hurley-Langton and Paul Boyle start in the backrow.

Caolin Blade misses out through injury while JJ Hanrahan undergoes return to play protocols, so it’s a new halfback partnership with Michael McDonald and Jack Carty, who will captain the side.

Tiernan O’Halloran starts at fullback with Diarmuid Kilgallen and Andrew Smith on the wings, while the midfield sees David Hawkshaw partner with Cathal Forde.

Commenting ahead of the game, Wilkins said: “Tomorrow is a hugely significant game for both ourselves and Benetton. There is very little between the teams from fourth to 11th in the URC table, and one result can see any team make a big rise up the standings.

“Benetton are a team with international quality throughout their squad, and we have always found our encounters over in Treviso to be an enormous physical and mental test.

“Having been disappointed with both our performance and result last weekend, it is now about delivering the appropriate response. So it is a challenge that we are hugely excited about and will travel to Italy highly motivated and determined to deliver a big performance.”

CONNACHT (v Benetton): Tiernan O’Halloran; Diarmuid Kilgallen, David Hawkshaw, Cathal Forde, Andrew Smith; Jack Carty (capt), Michael McDonald; Jordan Duggan, Dave Heffernan, Jack Aungier; Niall Murray, Joe Joyce; Cian Prendergast, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Eoin de Buitléar, Denis Buckley, Sam Illo, Darragh Murray, Jarrad Butler, Colm Reilly, Shane Jennings, Shayne Bolton.

Ulster interim head coach Richie Murphy will be without club captain Iain Henderson for the second leg of their trip to South Africa to face the Stormers on Saturday (5.15 Irish time).

The Ireland secondrow is absent due to an unspecified illness, with fellow international Rob Herring leading the side from hooker

Joining Herring in the frontrow will be World Cup-winning Springbok Steven Kitshoff, who returns to the DHL Stadium to face his former team, and Tom O’Toole starts at tighthead prop.

The secondrow sees Harry Sheridan and Kieran Treadwell start as the lock pairing a week after both men scored tries in Durban in the loss to the Sharks.

In the backrow, Matty Rea starts as the blindside flanker, with David McCann and Nick Timoney retaining their places in the team at openside flanker and number eight from last weekend.

John Cooney starts at scrumhalf and is joined by Nathan Doak at 10 to form the halfback partnership.

Ethan McIlroy starts on the left wing, with Rob Baloucoune returning to the starting line-up at right wing.

Stuart McCloskey and James Hume retain their partnership in midfield, with Mike Lowry completing the backfield at fullback.

ULSTER (v Stormers): Mike Lowry; Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy; Nathan Doak, John Cooney; Steven Kitshoff, Rob Herring (capt), Tom O’Toole; Harry Sheridan, Kieran Treadwell; Matty Rea, David McCann, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Andrew Warwick, Scott Wilson, Cormac Izuchukwu, Marcus Rea, Dave Shanahan, Jake Flannery, Stewart Moore.