RaboDirect Pro 12: Frank Murphy earns 100th cap for Connacht against Munster
Last Updated: 28/12/13 8:44pm
Table-toppers Munster travel to Thomond Park to take on 11th-placed Connacht in the RaboDirect Pro12 on Friday.
The Munstermen head into the clash having lost only one of their last eleven league fixtures and just once to a fellow Irish province in their last five encounters.
Connacht have not won away from home in the tournament since April and boss Pat Lam makes three changes to his starting line-up.
Frank Murphy will earn his 100th cap when he starts at scrum-half.
Leading try scorer Fionn Carr has been named on the right wing while Gavin Duffy moves to full back to allow Irish international Robbie Henshaw switch to the centre.
In the pack, the front five remains unchanged from last week's victory against The Dragons but the back row sees Andrew Browne promoted from the bench to start at blindside flanker while John Muldoon switches to the openside.
Eoin McKeon makes up an all-Galway back row wearing the number eight jersey.
On the replacements bench, lock Aly Muldowney returns to the fray and 20-year-old Academy back Darragh Leader has been brought in as cover.
Meanwhile, Munster head coach Rob Penney continues with his squad rotation as JJ Hanrahan is the only survivor from last weekend's starting XV which beat Scarlets.
Niall Scannell and John Ryan move in to the side, joining James Cronin, with Scannell making his first start at this level after making his debut last weekend as a replacement.
Donncha O'Callaghan also makes the step up and starts next to Dave Foley in the second-row while Paddy Butler marks his return from injury with a starting place in the back-row, joining Sean Dougall and James Coughlan who captains the squad for the second time this season.
Hanrahan is joined in the half-backs by Duncan Williams this week with Gerry Hurley named in the replacements for the first time this season. The Cork Con man is line to make a return to league action against the same opposition he last played exactly six years ago.
Ronan O'Mahony who scored the winning try in the 83rd minute last Saturday is named in the new look starting backline with Johne Murphy joining James Downey in the centre partnership for the first time this season.
Munster: 15 F Jones, 14 K Earls, 13 J Murphy, 12 J Downey, 11 R O'Mahony, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 D Williams, 1 J Cronin, 2 N Scannell, 3 J Ryan, 4 D O'Callaghan, 5 D Foley, 6 P Butler, 7 S Dougall, 8 J Coughlan.
Replacements: 16 D Varley, 17 A Cotter, 18 S Archer, 19 B Holland, 20 CJ Stander, 21 G Hurley, 22 J Holland, 23 D Hurley.
Connacht: 15 G Duffy, 14 F Carr, 13 R Henshaw, 12 E Griffin, 11 M Healy, 10 D Parks, 9 F Murphy, 1 B Wilkinson, 2 J Harris-Wright, 3 N White, 4 M Kearney, 5 C Clarke (c), 6 A Browne, 7 J Muldoon, 8 E McKeon.
Replacements: 16 D Heffernan, 17 D Buckley, 18 R Ah You, 19 A Muldowney, 20 G Naoupu, 21 KMarmion, 22 J Carty, 23 D Leader.
RaboDirect PRO12 2013/14 R11
Leinster moved into second place in the PRO12 after beating Ulster 19-6 in a fiercely competitive derby at the RDS.
Benetton Treviso secured bragging rights in Italian rugby with a much-needed 20-15 victory over bottom side Zebre.
Fly-half JJ Hanrahan scored all Munster's points as they secured a 22-16 victory over Connacht at Thomond Park.