Munster as you were as Keith Earls is passed fit

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will field the starting XV which put Leicester Tigers to the sword in Limerick last week when the teams reconvene at Welford Road this afternoon for their Champions Cup pool rematch.

Ireland wing Keith Earls had been the only fitness doubt after last Saturday’s 38-0 bonus-point win over the English giants but he has recovered from a slight groin strain to take his place in the Munster back three as Erasmus bids for a third straight win in Pool 1.

There is one change on the replacements bench at loosehead prop where James Cronin, who scored two tries on his return from injury for Munster A at Rotherham last week, has been named in place of new signing Thomas du Toit.

Munster have won twice at Welford Road, the only side to do so in European competition having defeated the Tigers in the 2003 quarter-finals and a 2006 pool encounter but Leicester have never lost both games to the same side in a back-to-back fixture.

Richard Cockerill, the South African’s opposite number, has been dealt a further blow to his injury-hit selection options with Freddie Burns’s absence at fly-half following the concussion he suffered at Thomond Park seven days ago.

Burns, the Premiership player of the month for November, is replaced in the 10 jersey by Owen Williams who switches from inside centre. As a result, Manu Tuilagi moves from 13 to 12 with Jack Roberts, a Champions Cup debutant as an outside back replacement last week, filling the breach at outside centre.

There are two further changes to the Tigers line-up with South African international Pat Cilliers starting at tighthead prop, and Luke Hamilton also coming off the bench from last week to replace blindside flanker Mike Fitzgerald, who passed his Head Injury Assessment having failed to finish the game at Thomond Park.

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