Emirates Lions Face An Uphill Battle Against Confident Munster


Another exciting round lies ahead in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship as the focus now turns to see what Round 12 will have to offer. Friday night lights return to Cork as Munster host Emirates Lions at 21h35 (SA Time)

Munster’s only loss in the last four rounds of the BKT United Rugby Championship was by a single point at home to Leinster on St. Stephen’s Day. The Munstermen have won their last four matches at Musgrave Park since Edinburgh beat them there in November 2019.

Emirates Lions have lost their last two United Rugby Championship encounters since beating Scarlets in Johannesburg on 4 December. The Emirates Lions have won their last four fixtures played outside of South Africa.

The Emirates Lions have only ever beaten an Irish province once, beating today’s opponents, Munster, 23-21 in their only previous clash in Johannesburg last season.

Prediction: Munster by 12.

Munster made six personnel changes and three positional switches to the side that beat Ulster in Belfast four days ago.

Jack O’Donoghue captains the side and makes his 15th appearance of the campaign having featured in every game so far this season.

Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes, Ben Healy, Josh Wycherley, Diarmuid Barron and John Hodnett are all drafted into the starting XV.

Malakai Fekitoa moves to the outside centre as Gavin Coombes joins the second row and Alex Kendellen moves to no.8.

Mike Haley starts at full-back with Shane Daly and Liam Coombes on either flank. Liam makes his first appearance since September after recently returning from injury.

Scannell and Fekitoa start in midfield with Paddy Patterson and Healy resuming their half-back partnership having last started together against South Africa A at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Wycherley, Barron and Roman Salanoa start in the front row with Jean Kleyn and Gavin Coombes in the engine room.

Captain Jack O’Donoghue, Hodnett and Kendellen complete the side.

Greencore Munster Rugby Academy duo Cian Hurley and Patrick Campbell are included on the bench. Dan Goggin joins the replacements and is in line for his first appearance since September.

Emile van Heerden will make his debut this Friday at Musgrave Park for the Emirates Lions. The exciting young recruit takes his place in the number 7 jumper alongside Jarod Cairns and Emmanuel Tshituka.

The Marius Louw-led side will look to start the tour off on a winning note, hoping to replicate similar performances which saw them achieve 3 out of 3 wins overseas at the start of the 2022/23 season.

Emirates Lions Scrum Coach Julian Redelinghuys said “Friday will be a good test for our guys against Munster on tour. The Munster pack has been in good form recently, so Friday will be an exciting challenge for this team especially the guys who’ll be getting an opportunity to feature.”

“We all know you don’t grow when it’s easy, you grow when it’s tough- and Friday will be tough especially in these conditions away from home.”

“Playing at Musgrave Park will be new for us as none of our current squad members have played there. In saying that, we tend to strive under the new and unknown so this will certainly be one of those.”


Munster: 15. Mike Haley, 14. Shane Daly, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Rory Scannell, 11. Liam Coombes, 10. Ben Healy, 9. Paddy Patterson, 8. Alex Kendellen, 7. John Hodnett, 6. Jack O’Donoghue (c), 5. Gavin Coombes, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Roman Salanoa, 2. Diarmuid Barron, 1. Josh Wycherley. Replacements: 16. Scott Buckley, 17. Dave Kilcoyne, 18. Stephen Archer, 19. Cian Hurley, 20. Jack O’Sullivan, 21. Conor Murray, 22. Dan Goggin, 23. Patrick Campbell.

Emirates Lions: 15. Quan Horn, 14. Stean Pienaar, 13. Henco van Wyk, 12. Marius Louw (c), 11. Edwill van der Merwe, 10. Jordan Hendrikse, 9. Morné van den Berg, 8. Emmanuel Tshituka, 7. Emile van Heerden, 6. Jarod Cairns, 5. Darrien Landsberg, 4. Ruan Venter, 3. Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2. Pieter Botha, 1. Jean-Pierre Smith. Replacements: 16. Michael van Vuuren, 17. Morgan Naudé, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Willem Alberts, 20. Sibusiso Sangweni, 21. Andre Warner, 22. Gianni Lombard, 23. Manuel Rass.