Whereas Munster coach Anthony Foley yesterday announced a squad full of familiar names, his Glasgow counterpart Gregor Townsend had little option but to rely on a number of relatively-inexperienced players as he bids to build on the Warriors’ outstanding 31-13 win in last May’s Ravenhill decider.
Foley has made eight changes in personnel from the side that caught the Ospreys on the post a fortnight ago. There’s an all-new front-row of James Cronin, Duncan Casey and Stephen Archer, with a formidable back-up trio of David Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry and BJ Botha all set to relieve them from the bench after an hour or so.
There’s an opportunity for Munster fans to see 58-times capped Australian second-row Mark Chisholm make his first Thomond Park appearance alongside Dave Foley. Duncan Williams and Ian Keatley return at half-back, with Tyler Bleyendaal switching to the centre, where he links up with academy member David Johnston.
South African Gerhard van den Heever makes his first league appearance of the season on the left wing, with Felix Jones leading the side from full-back.
The game obviously presents Munster with a great chance of a third successive victory in the current league campaign given the massive demands placed on Glasgow’s resources by the World Cup. While acknowledging this fact, Foley still expects a typically-tough challenge from the proud Scots.
“Glasgow are down 20-odd players,” Foley said, noting that “Scarlets went up there and did very well to win, but even then Glasgow could have pipped them at the end even though 11 points down with five minutes to go. They still had an opportunity to win with the last play of the game. That says a lot about their character, their make-up and the playing group they have. It’s always a tussle with them as you can see from results so far. You may think they’re out of the game but they’re not.”
Gregor Townsend has handed the Glasgow captaincy to second-row Rob Harley, with Grayson Hart starting at scrum-half and one-time Scotland regular Mike Blair on the bench. Much is expected this season of flanker Chris Fusaro, who missed much of last season with an ankle injury, and his back-row colleague Adam Ashe.
“The players have been really positive in our last two games,” said Townsend. “They also showed huge character to find a way to win against Connacht in our last Pro12 match.
“We were able to give our players a run-out against the British army last weekend which has helped maintain momentum. Munster are a top-class side but we’ve prepared well.”
Munster – F Jones capt; A Conway, D Johnston T Bleyendaal, G van den Heever; I Keatley, D Wulliams; J Cronin, D Casey, S Archer, M Chisholm, D Foley, Dave O’Callaghan, J O’Donoghue, CJ Stander. Replacements – M Sherry, D Kilcoyne, BJ Botha, R Copeland, J Coghlan, C Sheridan, R Scannell, S Monahan.
Glasgow Warriors – R Hughes; J Bulumakau, H Blake, F Lyle, L Jones; R Clegg, G Hart; A Allen, P MacArthur, D Rae, R Harley capt, S Cummings, T Holmes, C Fusaro, A Ashe. Replacements – F Scott, J Yanuyanutawa, Z Fagerson, K Low, J Eddie, M Blair, G Hunter, R Fergusson.
Referee - Ben Whitehouse (Wales).