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Earls’ return will be key as Munster name their cup side

THE Munster side has been named for Saturday’s URC semi-final against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium (5.30pm). Despite the injuries, it is a formidable starting fifteen with Loughman, Barron and Archer in the front row and Tadhg Beirne and John Kleyn powering at lock. Peter O’Mahony’s return is also significant with fellow Corkonians Hodnett and Coombes also in terrific form all season and very solid at the back of the scrum.
Ben Healy starts at ten partnering Craig Casey while Crowley moves to the centre. Keith Earls recovered from his groin injury earlier this week and makes his first start since his 200th Munster appearance against the Sharks three weeks ago.
The Limerick man, who will relish this derby game, recovered from his groin injury earlier this week and makes his first start since his 200th Munster appearance against Sharks three weeks ago. Jack O’Donoghue, Neil Cronin and Rory Scannell join the squad as replacements.
In player news, Munster Rugby can confirm that scrum-half Neil Cronin has signed a contract extension until the end of January 2024. Cronin has made 37 Munster appearances since making his debut for the province as a Garryowen player against Leinster on St Stephen’s Day in 2014.
He signed his first contract with Munster in 2018 after continuing to impress with Garryowen in the AIL. Leinster have named a side without a number of their top players but with home advantage and a decent bench, they will be favourites to go through to another final. There are factors that are in favour of Munster such as their current form, perfect playing conditions and their stubborn will to never say die. It will certainly be a close encounter and the Reds may just shade it.

Leinster: Jimmy O’Brien, Tommy O’Brien, Robbie Henshaw, Charlie Ngatai, Dave Kearney, Harry Byrne, Luke McGrath (c), Michael Milne, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ryan Baird, Jason Jenkins, Max Deegan, Will Connors, Jack Conan

Replacements: John McKee, Cian Healy, Thomas Clarkson, Joe McCarthy, Josh van der Flier, Nick McCarthy, Ciarán Frawley, Liam Turner

Munster: Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Antoine Frisch, Jack Crowley, Shane Daly; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (c), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Josh Wycherley, Roman Salanoa, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Rory Scannell, Alex Kendellen.

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