Munster hope to put poor Guinness PRO14 form behind them in Connacht clash
Guinness PRO14: Connacht v Munster (tonight, Sportsground, 7.15pm)
MUNSTER are unbeaten after the first two rounds of European Champions Cup, but they have lost two of their last three games in the Guinness PRO14.
They still sit second in Conference A but will be put to the test by a Connacht side that put poor form in the PRO14 behind them with back-to-back wins in the Challenge Cup over the last two weeks.
John Muldoon returns to captain Connacht with Kieran Marmion, Ultan Dillane, Finlay Bealham, Tom McCartney, Tom Farrell, Jarrad Butler and Cian Kelleher also coming into the starting team.
Tiernan O’Halloran starts at full-back with Darragh Leader and Kelleher on the two flanks. Farrell joins Bundee Aki in the centre as Marmion and Jack Carty form the half-back partnership.
Bealham, McCartney and Denis Buckley make up the front row with Dillane and James Cannon in the second row. Muldoon’s return sees him wear the No.8 jersey with Eoin McKeon in at blindside and Butler at openside.
Niyi Adeolokun is named in the matchday 23 for the first time this season as he returns from injury.
Meanwhile, Rassie Erasmus makes three changes to the Munster side that downed Racing 92 in Europe last time out.
In the front five, John Ryan and Mark Flanagan are promoted from the bench this week, with Ryan joining Dave Kilcoyne and Rhys Marshall in the front row as Flanagan links up with his second row partner Billy Holland once again.
The only change to the backline is a straight swap as Andrew Conway takes the place of Darren Sweetnam to start on the wing, joining Keith Earls and Simon Zebo, who will leave at the end of this season, in the back three.
Zebo explained: “As much as I will miss everything about this place – the players, staff, supporters and friends for life. I know there are many more special nights in Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park to be had,” he said.
“I will continue to enjoy wearing my jersey with pride and will give my all in making sure Munster are successful this season.”
PRO14 ROUND SEVEN FIXTURES
Tonight (7.35pm): Connacht v Munster, Glasgow v Kings, Ospreys v Dragons
Treviso v Edinburgh (2pm), Zebre v Cheetahs (5pm), Ulster v Leinster (6.30pm), Scarlets v Cardiff (7.35pm)