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Munster Squad Named For Connacht

Guinness PRO14 Rugby Editor

30 Dec 2016

Francis Saili

As expected, Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus has made sweeping changes to his side for the Guinness PRO12 clash against reigning champions Connacht at the Sportsground on New Year’s Eve (5.30pm).

There are 11 changes to the team that defeated Leinster on Monday in Thomond Park, one of which sees Francis Saili make his first start of the season.

This season’s leading try scorer Ronan O’Mahony is the only back retained by Erasmus, starting on the left wing, while Keith Earls returns to start on the opposite flank.

Academy player Dan Goggin makes his fourth start of the campaign and joins Saili in forming a new centre partnership, while Duncan Williams and Ian Keatley are this week’s half-back pairing.

Although managing an elbow issue this week and initially deemed unavailable, Andrew Conway’s injury was not as bad as first feared and the fullback has been declared fit to start.

With five changes to the pack, Rhys Marshall and Stephen Archer are introduced to the front row, joining James Cronin.

Dave Foley packs down next to Jean Kleyn in the engine room, while Billy Holland and Jack O’Donoghue are promoted to start alongside Tommy O’Donnell in the back-row.

In the absence of Peter O’Mahony, Holland will captain the side.

After successfully rehabbing an elbow injury, in the replacements, hooker Kevin O’Byrne makes his return to a match-day squad for the first time since the opening game against Scarlets.

Munster: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Dan Goggin, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Dave Foley; Billy Holland (Capt.), Tommy O’Donnell, Jack O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Dave Kilcoyne, Kevin O’Byrne, Thomas Du Toit, Robin Copeland, Conor Oliver, Te Aihe Toma, Rory Scannell, Jaco Taute.

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