Wednesday 22 November 2017

Erasmus is taking no chances with Murray

Rassie Erasmus Picture: Sportsfile
Rassie Erasmus Picture: Sportsfile

Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus has taken the 'sure-to-be-sure' route with Conor Murray in leaving the scrum-half out of Munster's last regular season match.

The half-backs Angus Lloyd and Ian Keatley - Munster's Player of the Year Tyler Bleyendaal is held in reserve - will have to be on their toes.

Erasmus has changed more than half his team from the routine win in Treviso, Billy Holland leading from the engine room.

South African Jean Deysel has recovered from a rib injury to accompany the super-competitive Conor Oliver and rangy Jack O'Donoghue in the back row.

It is in the backline where six of the alterations come, Keatley marking his 150th appearance as centre Dan Goggin and wing Alex Wootton are rewarded for fine recent form as Jaco Taute is the only man retained.

Coach Pat Lam left no one in any doubt about his disgust at how Connacht fared against the Scarlets in their last home match of the campaign last week.

They really need a spark from somewhere to have any legitimate chance of qualifying for the Champions Cup, given the one-sided rules of engagement which determined both PRO12 League clubs had to travel to England or France for the semi-finals.

"With this being our final game before the European play-off, there is no question that we need an improved performance in Limerick," said Lam.

"With quite a few changes from last weekend, it's an opportunity for those guys selected to drive that improvement.

"Winning only once in 29 years at Thomond Park emphasises the challenge we face," he added.

"With the way Munster are playing as a team this season, there is no doubt that challenge has got even tougher.

"At the end of the day, it's a derby game with a lot on the line for both teams and we're really looking forward to it."

Munster: A Conway, A Wootton, J Taute, D Goggin, K Earls; I Keatley, A Lloyd; J Cronin, R Marshall, S Archer, D O'Shea, B Holland (capt), J Deysel, C Oliver, J O'Donoghue.

Connacht: T O'Halloran; D Poolman, T Farrell, C Ronaldson, C Kelleher; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, S Delahunt, C Carey, Q Roux, A Browne, E McKeon, J Connolly, J Muldoon (capt).

Verdict: Munster.

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