Munster aiming to end Rassie's reign on a high

Munster aiming to end Rassie's reign on a high
Outgoing Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

A MUCH changed Munster side will want to sign off on the end of Rassie Erasmus’ time in the province with a win against Dragons at Musgrave Park, 7.35pm.

The Reds have a three-week break and work permit problems excepted, the new coach Johann van Graan will be in situ by the time they play Zebre.

The side to take on the Dragons shows 10 changes from the one which lost to Connacht last week and Cork’s Billy Holland resumes the captaincy for his 170th game with the Reds.

Chris Cloete. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Chris Cloete. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Chris Cloete will make his debut this evening. The 26-year-old is small in terms of professional rugby back-rows, standing a little over 5' 9", but his reputation as a fiercely competitive tackler and powerful ball carrier preceded him.

The Cork crowd will also be happy their own Simon Zebo at full-back while JJ Hanrahan finally achieves his ambition to start at out-half, as the battle for the all-important No 10 jersey with Keatley and Tyler Bleyendaal heats up.

Crosshaven’s Darren O’Shea and Ballincollig loose-head prop James Cronin have worked their way back into the match-day 23 after frustrating spells out with injury. They are just two of several players involved tonight desperately keen to make their presence felt.

Dunmanway’s Darren Sweetnam has been released from international camp as have Chris Farrell and they both start while Ian Keatley is on the bench.

Dragons coach Bernard Jackman has made 10 changes from the team that lost the Welsh derby to the Ospreys last week, four enforced by Welsh squad requirements.

The captaincy goes to James Benjamin, a key man in the back-row, an area causing Jackman numerous problems because of a spate of injuries to key players.

MUNSTER: S Zebo; D Sweetnam, C Farrell, R Scannell, A Wootton; JJ Hanrahan, D Williams; L O’Connor, R Marshall, S Archer, J Kleyn, B Holland capt, J O’Donoghue, C Cloete, R Copeland.

Replacements: K O’Byrne, J Cronin, B Scott, D O’Shea, M Flanagan; J Hart, I Keatley, S Arnold.

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