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Johaan rings the changes for the visit to Kingspan Staddium

IN making 11 changes to the XV that suffered defeat to Leinster in Thomond Park four days ago James Cronin, Niall Scannell and John Ryan start together in the front row for the first time this season for Munster for their visit to Belfast on New Year’s Day. Young Munster’s Calvin Nash starts on the right wing while Ronan O’Mahony (pictured) makes a welcome return to the bench after a lengthy injury.
Darren O’Shea joins Billy Holland in the second row with Holland taking over the captaincy duties for his 16th successive start in this campaign.
Tommy O’Donnell is the other forward to retain his place as he makes the positional switch to blindside for the round 12 encounter with Cloete returning to openside and Jack O’Donoghue starting at 8.
Keith Earls has recovered from illness to be named in the backline and joins Sammy Arnold in forming a new midfield pairing for the province, with Arnold switching to inside centre this week and Earls outside him.
With Alex Wootton again on the left wing, the academy’s Calvin Nash starts on the opposite flank for his first start of the season, and Simon Zebo completes the back three at fullback.
Duncan Williams and JJ Hanrahan form the half back pairing.
Named in the replacements is winger Ronan O’Mahony who has successfully rehabbed the fractured fibula sustained against Treviso last April to be included in his first match-day squad of the season.
If sprung from the bench, Jeremy Loughman, who was previously capped with Leinster, will make his Munster PRO14 debut in Belfast.
Munster: Simon Zebo; Calvin Nash, Keith Earls, Sammy Arnold, Alex Wootton; JJ Hanrahan, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Darren O’Shea, Billy Holland (c); Tommy O’Donnell, Chris Cloete, Jack O’Donoghue.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Rory Loughman, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Robin Copeland, James Hart, Bill Johnston, Ronan O’Mahony.
There will be live TV coverage on BBC NI.
Ulster Rugby team to play Munster, Guinness PRO14, Monday 1st January, Kingspan Stadium.
UlsterL Charles Piutau; Craig Gilroy, Louis Ludik, Stuart McCloskey, Rob Lyttle; Christian Lealiifano, John Cooney; Kyle McCall, Rob Herring (captain), Rodney Ah You, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones, Nick Timoney, Jean Deysel;
Replacements: Adam McBurney, Callum Black, Wiehahn Herbst, Robbie Diack, Matthew Rea, Paul Marshall, Johnny McPhillips, Andrew Trimble.

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