Home Rugby Blow For Munster As Keith Earls Misses Semi-Final With Saracens

Blow For Munster As Keith Earls Misses Semi-Final With Saracens

European Rugby Champions Cup Press Conference Aviva Stadium Dublin 22/4/2017 Munster vs Saracens Munster’s Keith Earls Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Munster have confirmed that Keith Earls will miss their Heineken Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens through injury, with Darren Sweetnam replacing him on the wing. 

The 31-year-old, who scored a brace of tries against Edinburgh in the quarter-final, picked up an injury during the game and did not train during the week.

Mike Haley was a late withdrawal in BT Murrayfield through illness but returns to the starting XV this week at full back.

In the absence of Joey Carbery who continues to recover from a hamstring injury, Tyler Bleyendaal is handed the number 10 jersey and starts alongside Conor Murray.

Conor Murray Tyler Bleyendaal

Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell are named in the centre while Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan pack down in the front row with Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne in the engine room.

Peter O’Mahony is set to make his 50th Champions Cup appearances and is named in the back row alongside Jack O’Donoghue and CJ Stander who has played every minute in the competition for Munster.

Saracens have won three of their last four games against Munster in the tournament, after losing each of their first four prior to that run.

Saracens and Munster have met twice before in the semi-final with Munster winning 18-16 at the Ricoh Arena in 2008 while Saracens secured a 26-10 victory at the Aviva Stadium in 2017; on each occasion, the winning side went on to lift the trophy.

Munster will be hoping for redemption following their semi-final exit at the hands of Racing 92 last season. Captain Peter O’Mahony believes the province are in a better position than they were 12 months ago.

“We are under no illusions as to how tough it is going to be. We are definitely a better side than we were last year. That gives us great confidence. We have big battles this year, games in which we have gone behind, big games that we have ground out; the draw in Exeter.

“You don’t look back a huge amount but there are things that you draw strength from over a season to gather momentum and confidence.”

Kick-off in the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, is 3pm. The game will be shown live on BT Sports.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Dan Goggin.

Referee: Jérome Garcès (Fra)

About Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. She is a former reporter with Sporting Limerick and is a huge fan of the GAA. You can contact her at marisa@punditarena.com or on Twitter