Munster may still have 12 of their elite players on the absentee list after the World Cup but that hasn’t prevented Johann van Graan from making 11 changes from the side that defeated Ospreys last week for tonight’s (7. 35pm) Guinness PRO14 game against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.
The host will be without a sizeable number of internationals including record try-scoring wing Josh Adams along with fellow Welsh stars, Owen Lane and Hallam Amos.
Van Graan has handed the captaincy to in-form back-row forward Jack O’Donoghue, the only member of the pack to keep his place after the bonus-point win over Ospreys. Dan Goggin, Calvin Nash and Shane Daly are retained though the latter switches from wing to full-back
The most interesting selection is that of the powerfully built 20-year-old South African native, Keynan Knox, at tighthead.
Knox was signed straight from school in 2017 and although still a member of the provincial academy will graduate to a senior contract next season and was registered in the Munster squad this week for the upcoming Champions Cup.
Knox is joined in the front-row this evening by Jeremy Loughman and Kevin O’Byrne, with Darren O’Shea and Fineen Wycherley in the second-row. The South African influence is further emphasised by the presence in the back-row of Arno Botha and Chris Cloete, who has made a recovery from a leg injury.
The Munster management are keen to see how the richly talented Daly will fare at full-back while paving the way for the return from long term injury on the wing of Alex Wootton. Sammy Arnold also makes his first start of the season in the centre, with Alby Mathewson and JJ Hanrahan teaming up at half-back.
In spite of all the changes, Cardiff Blues coach John Mulvihill believes he knows what his players can expect: “They will be the same old Munster,” he maintained.
They will look to get you in an arm wrestle, they will slow the ball down when they can and there will be a lot of kicking off nine. We need to start well and don’t let teams like them get away.
M Morgan; J Harries, R Lee-Lo, G Smith, A Summerhill; J Evans, L Williams capt; C Domachowski, L Belcher, S Andrews, J Turnbull, R Thornton, S Lewis-Hughes, O Robinson, W Boyde.
K Myhill, B Thyer, K Assiratti, S Davies, N Williams, L Jones, J Tovey, W Halaholo.
S Daly; C Nash, S Arnold, D Goggin, A Wootton; JJ Hanrahan, A Mathewson; J Loughman, K O’Byrne, K Knox, F Wycherley, D O’Shea, J O’Donoghue capt, C Cloete, A Botha.
D Barron, L O’Connor, S Archer, J Holloway, C Oliver, N McCarthy, T Bleyendaal, R Scannell.