Mun­ster bol­stered by wealth of top op­tions

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - RUGBY - BREN­DAN FAN­NING

FROM famine to feast, you can’t move in Mun­ster these days with­out fall­ing over an out­half. Which is a lot bet­ter than hav­ing an out­half fall­ing over you. If pulling the game out of the fire against Glas­gow last week was very good news for them, then get­ting Tyler Bleyen­daal back on the field this week was much more of the same. Run­ning him at 12 out­side debu­tant Bill John­son — like Bleyen­daal, a man whose had more than his fair share of in­juries — with Ian Keat­ley on the bench, gives Mun­ster a heap of play­mak­ing op­tions to­day, in­clud­ing last week’s hero Rory Scan­nell. Fac­tor in Joey Car­bery and JJ Han­ra­han, both else­where to­day, and you see how deep Mun­ster’s stocks are now in this area.

Not quite the same story in Le­in­ster. The de­par­ture of Car­bery won’t be really felt un­til some­thing goes wrong with ei­ther Johnny Sex­ton or Ross Byrne, or both. To­day, for ex­am­ple, in Port El­iz­a­beth, they have Noel Reid start­ing at 10 against the Kings.

While they have got good value out of him over eight sea­sons his fu­ture as a 10 isn’t sched­uled to fea­ture on big days out. Ciarán Fraw­ley, who is on the bench, is short on ex­pe­ri­ence but Le­in­ster ex­pect him to make an im­pact in this po­si­tion.

The bonus-point win in Tre­viso was a good launch pad for Le­in­ster, though by the end of their South African so­journ they will have had enough travel to do them for a while. Like the Chee­tahs the Kings are prop­ping up their con­fer­ence — each with one win in this cam­paign — and hav­ing taken a lump out of Glas­gow in Septem­ber they’ll have a go at re­peat­ing the trick against the hold­ers.

Mun­ster’s task will be less straight­for­ward. The start­ing line-up for to­day is an il­lus­tra­tion of the strength they can call on now, es­pe­cially across the mid­field. They’ll need it against a Chee­tahs side that have just one com­pe­ti­tion to fo­cus on and a first win, last week­end against Cardiff, has given them con­fi­dence. Le­in­ster (v Kings): D Kear­ney; A Byrne, R O’Lough­lin, C O’Brien, J To­mane; N Reid, J Gib­son-Park; E Byrne, J Tracey, M Bent, R Molony, S Fardy (capt), J Mur­phy, M Dee­gan, D Leavy. Re­place­ments: B Byrne, P Doo­ley, V Ab­dal­adze, M Kear­ney, C Doris, H O’Sul­li­van, C Fraw­ley, T Daly.

Mun­ster (v Chee­tahs): M Ha­ley; S Daly, S Arnold, T Bleyen­daal (capt), A Woot­ton; B John­son, A Mathew­son; J Cronin, K O’Byrne, S Archer, J Kleyn, D O’Shea, F Wy­cher­ley, A Botha, C Cloete. Re­place­ments: M Sherry, J Lough­man, J Ryan, S O’Con­nor, G Coombes, D Wil­liams, I Keat­ley, R Scan­nell.

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