European Rugby Champions Cup: Munster v Toulouse (Sat)
|European Champions Cup: Munster v Toulouse|
|Venue: Thomond Park Date: Saturday, 1 April Kick-off: 17:45 BST|
|Coverage: Live score updates and report on the BBC Sport website|
Conor Murray is among five Ireland players back in the Munster side for Saturday’s home European Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulouse.
Murray missed Ireland’s Six Nations win over England on 18 March after sustaining a shoulder injury in the defeat by Wales a week earlier.
CJ Stander, Donnacha Ryan, Simon Zebo and Keith Earls will also start after missing the Pro12 win over Zebre.
Andrew Conway, a half-time replacement against England, is named on the bench.
Zebo will start at full-back at Thomond Park with Earls and Darren Sweetnam occupying the wing berths.
Murray, Zebo and Earls replace Duncan Williams, Conway and Ronan O’Mahony in the backline that started against Zebre in Italy.
Munster in 16th quarter-final
There are two further changes in the pack with lock Ryan and back row Stander taking over from Dave O’Callaghan and Jack O’Donoghue.
Francis Saili, who scored the vital late try in the pool win over Glasgow in January, is named on the bench after recovering from a knee ligament injury.
The sides will both be contesting their 16th European Cup quarter-final.
Munster have won seven of their previous eight home quarter-finals and will go in as favourites after a strong campaign so far this season in Europe and the Pro12.
In contrast, Toulouse have lost five of their last six Top 14 games and have dropped to 10th in the table.
Struggling Toulouse still laden with talent
The French giants only scraped into the last eight by denying Connacht a losing bonus point in their final pool match in January.
“We’re not in denial. Our league difficulties haven’t put us in the best shape to contest a European Champions Cup quarter-final,” coach Ugo Mola told AFP.
“The way we’ve played these last few weeks obviously leaves little hope for the final result.”
French international pair Yann David and Christopher Tolofua are ruled out but the Toulouse team is still laden with talent.
Their France players include former international captain Thierry Dusautoir plus backs Maxime Medard, Florian Fritz, Gael Fickou and Jean-Marc Doussain.
Scotland and Lions player Richie Gray joins Yoann Maestri in the second row while coach Mola has also picked an all-international front row of Cyril Baille, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Samoan Census Johnston.
Former All Blacks star Luke McAlister has to be content with a place on a bench which also includes Springboks prop Gurthro Steenkamp.
Munster: S Zebo; D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell, K Earls; T Bleyendaal, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan; D Ryan, B Holland; P O’Mahony (capt) T O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: R Marshall, J Cronin, S Archer, D O’Callaghan, J O’Donoghue, D Williams, F Saili, A Conway.
Toulouse: M Medard; Y Huget, F Fritz, G Fickou, P Perez; JM Doussain, S Bezy; C Baille, L Ghiraldini, C Johnston; R Gray, Y Maestri; T Dusautoir (capt), Y Camara, F Cros.
Replacements: J Marchard, G Steenkamp, D Aldegheri, T Gray, P Faasalele, J Tekori, L McAlister, A Bonneval.
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