Munster restore the big guns but Saracens are short key players

Munster restore the big guns but Saracens are short key players
Rory Scannell of Munster is tackled by Boris Palu of Racing 92 during the Heineken Champions Cup match recently. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

MUNSTER coach Johann van Graan has sprung a couple of surprises in the pack for Saturday's clash with Saracens in the Heineken Champions Cup, 5.30pm.

THE Reds have made 14 changes to the side beaten by Edinburgh in Cork last week with Stephen Archer, who made his 200th Munster appearance last week, is the only player to retain his place.

The home side will be breathing a sigh of relief that Saracens have left a number of their England stars at home including Owen Farrell, Mako and Billy Vunipola, Jamie George, George Kruis, and Elliot Daly.

Archer starts at tighthead ahead of John Ryan. The replacement front row of Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor and John Ryan also hail from Leeside.

Peter O’Mahony has been moved to openside with Tadhg Beirne coming in at the blindside and CJ Stander making up what will be the most important row in the game.

Mike Haley, Andrew Conway and Keith Earls are the in-form back three combination who will be looking to build on their performance against Racing with Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell renewing their centre partnership.

Scannell will also be used at out-half instead of JJ Hanrahan should the need arise.

Conor Murray and Hanrahan are named in the half-backs.

Van Graan has gone with Jean Kleyn and Billy Holland in the engine room with Bantry’s Fineen Wycherley on the bench.

Nick McCarthy is named among the replacements and is set to make his first Champions Cup appearance for Munster.

Additional seating installed at Thomond Park has resulted in the capacity of the stadium increasing to 26,267 for the big showdown.

MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (c), CJ Stander.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, John Ryan, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Nick McCarthy, Sammy Arnold, Arno Botha.

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