11 changes for Munster as they chase home semi-final

Munster have made 11 changes to the side that lost to Toulon in the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup for their penultimate league game against Edinburgh.

By Peter O’Dwyer

Munster have made 11 changes to the side that lost to Toulon in the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup for their penultimate league game against Edinburgh.

An entirely new front row enters the fray with James Cronin, Duncan Casey and John Ryan replacing Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley and BJ Botha respectively.

The rest of the pack has a familiar feel to it for the trip to Meggetland with Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan in the second row and Tommy O’Donnell and Paddy Butler returning to the backrow along with CJ Stander who keeps his place.

Munster are now guaranteed a semi-final berth thanks to Ospreys slip-up against Zebre on Thursday night, as are Leinster and Glasgow who sit above the southern province in the standings.

A home semi is still to play for though and victory tomorrow night would go some way to securing it with the Warriors just one point better off.

The centre partnership sees Denis Hurley and Johne Murphy, both of whom signed new contracts to stay at Munster during the week, line out together while behind them Simon Zebo reverts to full-back to accommodate Andrew Conway and Gerhard van Den Heever on the wings.

After feeling no ill-effects of his groin injury in the final stages of last week’s loss JJ Hanrahan has been deemed fit to start at out-half alongside Conor Murray.

A further five of last week’s team as well as Luke O’Dea make the bench, the latter taking his place with the senior side for the first time this season following a string of injuries.

Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons has had to deal with a string of injuries to his forward pack in the aftermath of last weekend’s game with Glasgow which sees Sean Cox, Ollie Atkins, Roddy Grant and Hamish Watson all unavailable.

As a result, David Denton will switch to the second-row for the first time since playing under-age for Scotland with Tomas Leonardi taking his place in the backrow.

The game carries extra significance for Edinburgh, who sit in seventh place in the table, as it will the last home game for captain Greig Laidlaw before he departs for Gloucester at the end of the season.

Munster: Simon Zebo, Gerhard VD Heever, Johne Murphy, Denis Hurley, Andrew Conway, JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray, James Cronin, Duncan Casey, John Ryan, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell (C), CJ Stander, Tommy O'Donnell, Paddy Butler.

Replacements: Damien Varley, Dave Kilcoyne, Alan Cotter, Dave Foley, James Coughlan, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Luke O'Dea.

Edinburgh: Jack Cuthbert, Tom Brown, Matt Scott, Andries Strauss, Tim Visser, Carl Bezuidenhout, Greig Laidlaw, Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, David Denton, Mike Coman, Tomas Leonardi, Cornell Du Preez.

Replacements: James Hilterbrand, Wicus Blauuw, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Dimitri Basilaia, Grayson Hart, Piers Francis, Sam Beard.

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