Zebo Starts For Munster In Champions Cup First Leg

The Munster side has been named ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup round of 16 first leg clash against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park (5.30pm).

Jack O’Donoghue captains the province in the Champions Cup for the first time with eight changes to the side that faced Leinster last week.Greencore Munster Rugby Academy member Alex Kendellen starts in Europe for the first time at no.8 on his 14th appearance of the campaign.Mike Haley, Keith Earls, Simon Zebo and Jean Kleyn all return to the starting XV after recent knocks with Ben Healy also coming into the starting XV.Jack O’Donoghue, John Hodnett and Alex Kendellen form a new-look back row.Haley, Earls and Zebo start in the back three with the centre partnership of Damian de Allende and Chris Farrell unchanged as Conor Murray and Ben Healy start in the half-backs.Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer keep their places in the front row with Kleyn and Fineen Wycherley starting in the engine room.Thomas Ahern is in line to make his Champions Cup debut off the bench.On the injury front, Peter O’Mahony and Joey Carbery were both unavailable for selection.A hamstring complaint has ruled out O’Mahony with the Munster captain to be reassessed on Monday ahead of the return fixture at Thomond Park.Carbery presented with a low-grade leg/knee injury following the Leinster clash but is expected to make his return to full training on Monday.Gavin Coombes has undergone surgery on the ankle injury he suffered against Leinster and has been ruled out until May.

Munster: Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Simon Zebo; Ben Healy, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (C), John Hodnett, Alex Kendellen.Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Jason Jenkins, Thomas Ahern, Craig Casey, Rory Scannell, Jack O’Sullivan.


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