Emirates Lions To Face Their Biggest Test Yet In URC Against Munster


Emirates Lions will host the third-placed Munster at Airlines Emirates Park today @ 14h00 in their biggest test in the 2021/2022 United Rugby Championship. The Lions had their third win of the season last week against Cardiff, but they will have their work cut out against the visitors who boast eight wins in 12 matches to date.

With a total of five home matches left for the Jozi outfit this season, they will be under immense pressure to capitalise on these encounters to bounce back from a disappointing string of results earlier in the season, but Munster haven’t lost three away Vodacom URC games in a row since 2018, and this will motivate them going into the clash.

Emirates Lions will be without their inspirational leader, Jaco Kriel. Kriel, who suffered an injury in the 51st minute last Sunday, is the only change to the starting XV named by head coach Ivan van Rooyen for tomorrow’s clash against the Irish outfit. Burger Odendaal takes over the captaincy reigns in the absence of Kriel.

“It’s sad to lose Jaco to injury. He underwent surgery on his arm yesterday, so he’ll be sidelined for an extended period. We wish him a successful recovery,” said Van Rooyen.

The Lions mentor went on to say that although his team claimed a much-needed win against Cardiff Rugby, the emphasis remains on improvement and minimizing mistakes.

“Last week’s win was a real confidence booster for us however we are not getting ahead of ourselves. The hard work continues and the intent to improve each week remains our theme,” he said.

“Munster are a fantastic side and have an impeccable record in this competition. Ours will be to ensure we play to our strengths and execute the things we spoke about in the week effectively,” he concluded.

The Munster side will be led by Jack O’Donoghue with five changes to the team that faced Vodacom Bulls last time out.

Damian de Allende, Shane Daly, Jack Crowley, John Ryan and John Hodnett come into the starting XV.

Five Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players are included as Alex Kendellen keeps his place at no.8 with Scott Buckley, Mark Donnelly, Eoin O’Connor and Paddy Patterson among the replacements.

Mike Haley starts at full-back with Calvin Nash and Daly on either flank.

De Allende and Chris Farrell form the centre partnership with Neil Cronin and Crowley in the half-backs.

Ryan joins Josh Wycherley and Niall Scannell in the front row with the second row pairing of Jean Kleyn and Fineen Wycherley unchanged.

O’Donoghue, Hodnett and Kendellen complete the side.

Buckley, Keynan Knox and Liam Coombes come into the squad among the replacements.

Weather: 24° with 9km/h NNE wind, partly sunny with 40% humidity.
Prediction: Munster by 8

Emirates Lions: 15. Quan Horn, 14. Stean Pienaar, 13. Wandisile Simelane, 12. Burger Odendaal (c), 11. Edwill van der Merwe, 10. Jordan Hendrikse, 9. Morne van den Berg, 8. Francke Horn, 7. Vincent Tshituka, 6. Sibusiso Sangweni, 5. Reinhard Nothnagel, 4. Ruben Schoeman, 3. Carlu Sadie, 2. Jaco Visagie, 1. Sti Sithole. Replacements: 16. PJ Botha, 17. JP Smith, 18. Ruan Dreyer, 19. Ruan Venter, 20. Emmanuel Tshituka, 21. Nico Steyn /Ginter Smuts, 22. Manuel Rass, 23. Tiaan Swanepoel.

Munster: 15. Mike Haley, 14. Calvin Nash, 13. Chris Farrell, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Shane Daly, 10. Jack Crowley, 9. Neil Cronin, 8. Alex Kendellen, 7. John Hodnett, 6. Jack O’Donoghue (captain), 5. Fineen Wycherley, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. John Ryan, 2. Niall Scannell, 1. Josh Wycherley. Replacements: 16. Scott Buckley, 17. Mark Donnelly, 18. Keynan Knox, 19. Eoin O’Connor, 20. Chris Cloete, 21. Paddy Patterson, 22. Ben Healy, 23. Liam Coombes