Sweetnam retains his Munster spot but Earls is ruled out through injury

Sweetnam retains his Munster spot but Earls is ruled out through injury
Munster's Darren Sweetnam. Picture: INPHO/Elena Barbini

MUNSTER were dealt a blow ahead of Saturday's Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens at the Ricoh Arena with Keith Earls ruled out due to injury.

That means that Cork’s Darren Sweetnam is one of just three players retained from last weekend’s win away against Treviso with Jack O’Donoghue and Mike Haley the other players.

Sweetnam was one of the standout players last weekend and comes in on the wing for Earls alongside Haley and Andrew Conway.

Keith Earls is out.
Keith Earls is out.

Today will also be a special for another Corkman, captain Peter O’Mahony, who leads the side on his 50th Champions Cup appearance. It is also his 50th start in the competition.

O’Donoghue starts at openside while the reserve back-row is Arno Botha, whose physical strength carrying the ball will be a big asset to the Reds today when called upon.

O’Mahony, O’Donoghue and CJ Stander will come up against arguably Saracens strongest line of blindside Michael Rhodes, openside Jackson Wray and Billy Vunipola.

Tyler Bleyendaal has won the battle for the number 10 jersey for the injured Joey Carbery will JJ Hanrahan on the bench while at nine Conor Murray will be looking to continue his return to form with another big display.

His battle with Ben Spencer, preferred to Richard Wigglesworth who is starting on the bench, will be key.

As expected Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell form the centre partnership.

Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan pack down in the front row with Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne in the engine room.

MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (c), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Dan Goggin.

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