Huge loss for Munster as Murray misses make-or-break Saracens clash

MUNSTER HAVE BEEN dealt a heavy blow ahead of tomorrow’s make-or-break Champions Cup clash against Saracens [KO 13.00], with influential scrum-half Conor Murray ruled out.

The Ireland international suffered a neck injury in last weekend’s Guinness Pro12 win away to Zebre and has not recovered in time to start at Allianz Park, meaning Duncan Williams will wear the nine shirt.

More positively for Anthony Foley’s side, Tommy O’Donnell, Paul O’Connell, BJ Botha, Duncan Casey and the fit-again James Cronin all return to the starting pack, while Keith Earls is included on the bench.

Denis Hurley gets the nod at inside centre ahead of JJ Hanrahan, while South African Pat Howard continues at 13. The back three sees Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway and Felix Jones link up again for another vital European tie.

Ian Keatley partners Williams in the half-backs, with the latter set for his first-ever start in European competition.

Hooker Casey packs down between Botha and Cronin for an all-new front row, while Clonmel man Dave Foley is alongside O’Connell in the locking department. O’Donnell starts at openside, with captain Peter O’Mahony reverting to the blindside and CJ Stander continuing at number eight.

28-year-old Williams makes his first European start for Munster. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Munster’s bench includes no scrum-half cover, with Hanrahan, Earls and Ronan O’Mahony named as backs subs. Dave O’Callaghan’s strong form earns him a spot, while Billy Holland covers the second row.

Meanwhile, Saracens have named a powerful-looking side to take on Munster, with Owen Farrell returning at out-half. Alistair Hargreaves is back to captain the team from the second row, as Kelly Brown makes his 100th appearance for the club in the back row.


15. Felix Jones
14. Andrew Conway
13. Pat Howard
12. Denis Hurley
11. Simon Zebo
10. Ian Keatley
9. Duncan Williams

1. James Cronin
2. Duncan Casey
3. BJ Botha
4. Dave Foley
5. Paul O’Connell
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Tommy O’Donnell
8. CJ Stander


16. Eusebio Guiñazú
17. John Ryan
18. Stephen Archer
19. Billy Holland
20. Dave O’Callaghan
21. Ronan O’Mahony
22. JJ Hanrahan
23. Keith Earls


15. Alex Goode
14. Chris Ashton
13. Marcelo Bosch
12. Brad Barritt
11. David Strettle
10. Owen Farrell
9. Richard Wigglesworth

1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George
3. Petrus Du Plessis
4. Jim Hamilton
5. Alistair Hargreaves (captain)
6. Kelly Brown
7. Jacques Burger
8. Billy Vunipola


16. Brett Sharman
17. Richard Barrington
18. James Johnston
19. Maro Itoje
20. Ernst Joubert
21. Neil de Kock
22. Charlie Hodgson
23. Chris Wyles

Roux buying into Connacht’s culture but has great memories of LeinsterMajor blow for Connacht as Bundee Aki ruled out for up to 10 weeks