PRO14 final: Munster and Leinster pick full-strength squads for Saturday’s match


Robbie Henshaw and CJ Stander have been in superb form for Ireland, but which will pick up PRO14 medals on Saturday?

Munster and Leinster have picked full-strength squads for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 final at the RDS in Dublin, though Leo Cullen’s defending champions have kept some firepower on the bench.

For Munster, head coach Johann van Graan could hardly have gone stronger, starting Joey Carbery at out-half and bringing returning Ireland internationals Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander, Tadhg Beirne, Conor Murray, Keith Earls and Chris Farrell into the starting XV.

Fellow Ireland camp returnees Dave Kilcoyne and Craig Casey are listed among the replacements, while Andrew Conway returned from Ireland a week early last week and starts on the wing.

Tadhg Beirne is one of a number of Ireland squad returnees to start for Munster

Tadhg Beirne is one of a number of Ireland squad returnees to start for Munster

Munster’s front-row consists of the in-form James Cronin, hooker Niall Scannell and tighthead John Ryan, while Jean Kleyn partners Beirne in the second row and Gavin Coombes makes up the back-row alongside O’Mahony and Stander.

In the backs, full-back Mike Haley starts in a back-three alongside Conway and Earls, while South Africa World Cup winner Damian de Allende joins Farrell at centre.

Hooker Kevin O’Byrne, tighthead Stephen Archer, second row Billy Holland, back-row Jack O’Donoghue, out-half JJ Hanrahan and centre Rory Scannell complete the bench along with Kilcoyne and Casey.

Munster are seeking to win a first trophy since 2011 and deny Leinster a fourth successive league title. At least three of their matchday squad for the final are also departing at the end of the season in stalwarts Holland, Stander (both retiring) and Hanrahan (moving to Clermont).

Munster have suffered a series of semi-final and final losses since they lost won a trophy in 2011

Munster have suffered a series of semi-final and final losses since they lost won a trophy in 2011

Leinster have beaten Munster at the semi-final stage of the PRO14 for the last three seasons on the bounce

Leinster have beaten Munster at the semi-final stage of the PRO14 for the last three seasons on the bounce

For Leinster, full-back Hugo Keenan, wing Jordan Larmour and centre Robbie Henshaw return from Ireland duty to start, with Johnny Sexton, James Lowe and Jamison Gibson-Park named on the bench.

As a result, Ross Byrne and Luke McGrath form the starting half-back pairing, while Dave Kearney starts on the left wing and Rory McLoughlin at outside-centre in place of the injured Garry Ringrose.

In the forwards, the front row is made up of Ireland returnees in Cian Healy, Ronan Kelleher and Andrew Porter – Tadhg Furlong held back on the bench – while a second row of Devin Toner, who will break Leinster’s all-time appearance record on 262 games, and Scott Fardy is named.

Andrew Porter starts at tighthead prop for Leinster, with Tadhg Furlong held back on the bench

Andrew Porter starts at tighthead prop for Leinster, with Tadhg Furlong held back on the bench

In the back-row, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan start at openside and No 8, a week on from starting against England, while Rhys Ruddock starts at blindside.

Hooker James Tracy, loosehead Ed Byrne, second row Ross Molony and lock-cum-back-row Ryan Baird make up the Leinster replacements alongside Furlong, Gibson-Park, Sexton and Lowe.

There has never been a PRO14 final in history that has not featured at least one of these sides, while they have faced off in the final twice before: 10 years ago in 2011 as Munster were victorious, and 20 years ago in 2001 as Leinster won the first-ever Celtic League.

Johnny Sexton starts on the bench for Leinster, as does JJ Hanrahan for Munster

Johnny Sexton starts on the bench for Leinster, as does JJ Hanrahan for Munster

Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 3 Andrew Porter, 4 Devin Toner, 5 Scott Fardy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Jack Conan.

Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Ryan Baird, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 James Lowe.

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray; 1 James Cronin, 2 Niall Scannell, 3 John Ryan, 4 Jean Kleyn, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 6 Gavin Coombes, 7 Peter O’Mahony, 8 CJ Stander.

Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Craig Casey, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Rory Scannell.





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