Emotional game for Munster as Scannell aims to pay tribute to Garrett Fitzgerald

Emotional game for Munster as Scannell aims to pay tribute to Garrett Fitzgerald
Niall Scannell during Munster Rugby squad training at the University of Limerick in Limerick. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

FRIDAY night will be a proud yet poignant night for Munster captain Niall Scannell.

He will get to lead Munster out against Zebre at Milan's Stadio Giovanni Mari for the first time with his brother Rory and cousin Jack O’Sullivan both starting in the side.

Johann van Graan has made six changes to the side that hammered Southern Kings last weekend and includes Darren Sweetnam in a matchday squad for the first time this season.

It will also be very emotional given the tribute that Scannell paid earlier in the week to Munster’s former CEO Garrett Fitzgerald.

The Reds will go all out to win this Friday evening, 7.45pm, for their former CEO and fans says captain Scannell.

“I know if there is one man that would want us to turn it around and go and have an away win at all costs on Friday it would definitely be Garrett,” says the Munster hooker.

“He would be back to business as usual. He would do anything to support us, to get us that win on Friday. That is what he did when we had to do this for Axel. 

"It was great to be able to pay our respects at the removal and the funeral. We just have to try and be professional about it now. And put those things aside as much as we can do and drive on.” 

Members of Munster Rugby form a guard of honour outside the church for Garrett Fitzgerald. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Members of Munster Rugby form a guard of honour outside the church for Garrett Fitzgerald. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The Reds will be pushing for a home semi-final in the PRO14 and Munster must put their disappointment of their Champions Cup exit behind them says the Corkman.

“I would be lying if I said that we are not disappointed. But we are in a business of short-term. It’s all turn around for the next game. 

"There was huge disappointment, it was an anti-climax and it was disappointing for us (to exit Europe) As well, it was disappointing for the supporters.

“We are just from a club where the supporters expect us to get out of our group.

“We just hope that the fans can get behind us again and drive us on for that home semi-final. It would be brilliant, for the fans as well, to get a home semi-final.” 

MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Craig Casey; James Cronin, Niall Scannell (c), John Ryan; Fineen Wycherley, Darren O'Shea; Arno Botha, Chris Cloete, Jack O'Sullivan.

Replacements: Kevin O'Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Gavin Coombes, Tommy O'Donnell, Neil Cronin, Dan Goggin, Darren Sweetnam.

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