Munster name exciting, young back row as Connacht game set to survive 4 months ago

Munster name exciting, young back row as Connacht game set to survive

A nice glimpse at the next few years ahead for Munster.

At present, Connacht's home United Rugby Championship tie with Munster is set to survive the Covid fixture cull and take place in Galway on Saturday evening.

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The only games in URC round nine that are set to go ahead are this interprovincial clash and, over in Wales, Scarlets vs. Ospreys. Positive Covid cases across multiple squads have seen all other round nine fixtures, including Leinster vs. Ulster, postponed.

Rugby fans have been starved of decent action over the festive period so both games should attract a lot of eyeballs. The two starting XVs named by Connacht and Munster will only add to the sense of anticipation.

Starting with the hosts, Connacht head coach Andy Friend is clearly not messing about. His side are not in action next weekend so the Connacht XV is extremely strong.

Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty are the half-back pairing, Bundee Aki is partnered by Sam Arnold in midfield and the back three is made up of John Porch, Mack Hansen and Tiernan O'Halloran.

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The Connacht pack has Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham up front, Ultan Dillane joined by Oisín Dowling in the second row and Cian Prendergast and Conor Oliver in the back row with Jarrad Butler.

Sam Warburton John Porch of Connacht, right, celebrates after scoring his side's first try against Leicester in the Champions Cup. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)

Munster's exciting back row

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As for Munster, head coach Johann van Graan may have his hands tied somewhat by Covid and injury issues within his senior squad. At this stage of the season, no team has been able to avoid Covid disruptions, but Munster have had it particularly tough.

Van Graan is still able to name a starting XV with 13 internationals and his back row is an exciting one. Gavin Coombes is back for his first game since October and is in the back row with captain Jack O'Donoghue and academy forward Alex Kendellen.

The 20-year-old is set to make his first senior start in what will be his fourth appearance. He made his Champions Cup debut, off the bench, against Castres, a fortnight ago.

Elsewhere, Damian De Allende partners Chris Farrell in midfield, Dave Kilcoynem Niall Scannel and Stephen Archer are in the front row and the half-back pairing sees Craig Casey reunited with Ben Healy.

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The game is due to kick off at 5:15 on Saturday, January 1st 2022 and will be live on Premier Sports and RTÉ.

CONNACHT

Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Sammy Arnold, Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham; Ultan Dillane, Oisín Dowling; Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Tietie Tuimauga, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Eoghan Masterson, Abraham Papali’i, Matthew Devine, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Farrell

MUNSTER

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Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Shane Daly; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue, Alex Kendellen, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Keynan Knox, Thomas Ahern, Jack Daly, Neil Cronin, Jack Crowley, Rory Scannell.