How they com­pare

Irish Examiner - Sport - - RUGBY -

Team News: There was a con­sid­er­able boost to Mun­ster morale yes­ter­day when head coach Jo­hann van Graan was able to name a trio of Ire­land in­ter­na­tion­als in his back­line as Si­mon Zebo, An­drew Con­way, and Rory Scan­nell all proved their fit­ness.

Hav­ing vowed only to pick play­ers who were 100% fit, Van Graan named Zebo at full-back fol­low­ing his re­cov­ery from a ham­string in­jury sus­tained against Ed­in­burgh on March 16 while right wing Con­way has not played since pick­ing up a knee in­jury against Cas­tres in Jan­uary.

Scan­nell will start at in­side cen­tre.

There are six changes in to­tal to the side that beat Scar­lets 19-7 in the PRO14 last Satur­day.

In ad­di­tion to Zebo and Con­way’s in­clu­sion, Mun­ster also wel­come back Ire­land’s Grand Slam win­ners Peter O’ma­hony, Conor Mur­ray, and CJ Stander from Test duty and ro­tate tight­head props with Stephen Archer in for John Ryan, who re­verts to the bench. O’don­nell’s place at seven goes to Jack O’donoghue, who moves from last week’s start­ing po­si­tion at blind­side as he wel­comes O’ma­hony and Stander to the back row.

Team News: Fa­bien Galthie has shuf­fled his pack in the wake of the 49-0 league drub­bing of Cler­mont Au­vergne last Sun­day with only Ar­gen­tine back rower Juan Fer­nan­dez Lobbe miss­ing out through in­jury from a team show­ing five changes.

Club cap­tain Duane Ver­meulen has re­cov­ered from a shoul­der in­jury and re­turns to the side in place of Lobbe, whose place at blind­side is taken by France in­ter­na­tional Raphael Lakafia, with Fa­cundo Isa re­main­ing in place on the open­side.

Lock Dave Attwood has a new sec­ond-row part­ner in Juan­dre Kruger, whose in­clu­sion has forced Ro­main Taofifenua onto the bench.

There is a change at fly-half where An­thony Bel­leau makes w a y f o r F r a n c o i s Tr i n h - D u c , while in mid­field Mathieu Bastareaud moves from in­side to out­side cen­tre, send­ing one All Black, Malakai Fek­i­toa, to the bench and al­low­ing for the re­turn of another, Ma’a Nonu, at 12.

The back three is the only un­changed com­bi­na­tion with Chris Ash­ton at full-back play­ing with wings Jo­sua Tuisova and Semi Radradra.

Weigh­ing in at a mere 93 kilo­grammes, full-back Chris Ash­ton is a rel­a­tive light­weight com­pared to his three-quar­ter col­leagues, un­der­line the de­fen­sive chal­lenge fac­ing Mun­ster.

Only Mun­ster full-back Si­mon Zebo, weigh­ing in at 94kg, out­weighs his op­po­site num­ber in the re­spec­tive out­side backs with none of the home backs top­ping 100kg.

The phys­i­cal mis­match in mid­field is the most ap­par­ent where Rory Scan­nell (94kg) goes up against Ma’a Nonu (106kg) and at out­side cen­tre where Sammy Arnold (96kg) gives away 24kg to op­po­site num­ber Bastareaud.

— Si­mon Lewis

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