Munster can bounce back as Connacht rue absentees
And there you have it.
The progress of Bundee Aki into the Ireland ranks means Connacht’s main man will not be at Thomond Park this evening (KO7.45, TG4).
Second row Ultan Dillane and scrum-half Kieran Marmion are also out of commission, leaving Caolan Blade to deal with Conor Murray (pictured).
“We have come through a series of big games and some guys have seen a lot of game-time,” said
Connacht coach Kieran Keane.
“Our internationals, in particular, are due a break, especially with the Six Nations just around the corner.”
There is surely a Munster backlash coming around the corner following an uncharacteristic collapse in Ulster.
Their head man Johann van Graan has replaced Chris Cloete with the equally diminutive Conor Oliver.
The openside unwanted by Leinster made a serious impact last season.
All of a sudden, Cloete has exploded onto the scene, although the fall of Tommy O’Donnell leaves the door ajar for Oliver.
The weight of evidence points towards a comfortable evening’s work for the home province.
Chris Farrell returns to the centre and the back three of Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway and Keith Earls has enough punch to make Connacht dizzy.
Better again, the spine of the pack includes hooker Rhys Marshall, lock Jean Kleyn and number eight CJ Stander.
Munster: S Zebo; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell, K Earls; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, R Marshall, J Ryan, J Kleyn, D O’Shea, J O’Donoghue, C Oliver, CJ Stander (capt). Replacements: M Sherry, J Cronin, S Archer, R Copeland, P O’Mahony; D Williams, B Johnston, D Sweetnam.
Connacht: T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, E Griffin, P Ahki, M Healy; J Carty, C Blade; P McCabe, T McCartney, C Carey, Q Roux, J Cannon, C Gallagher, J Butler, J Muldoon (capt). Replacements: S Delahunt, C O’Donnell, F Bealham, G Thornbury, P Boyle, J Mitchell, C Ronaldson, D Leader.
- Munster v Connacht Live TG4, KO 7.45