Strong Munster contingent set to begin Australia Tour

Story by Mal Keaveney

NINE MUNSTER players are part of the Ireland squad for the Summer Tour to Australia, which opens on Saturday (11.05am, Irish time) next at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

Hooker Niall Scannell was a late replacement in Joe Schmidt’s plans following a hamstring injury sustained by skipper Rory Best, in whose absence captaincy duties will be shared between Peter O’Mahony of Munster and Leinster’s Johnny Sexton.

John Ryan, CJ Stander, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls and Conor Murray, along with soon-to-be Munster recruits Joey Carbery and Tadhg Beirne have also been selected for the three-test tour with the games to be played on the upcoming three Saturdays of June. Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney will stage those fixtures. If Earls and O’Mahony both play in all three matches, Earls will earn his 70th international cap with O’Mahony making his 50th appearance for Ireland.

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Carbery’s imminent arrival from Leinster will leave Munster with an oversupply of fly-halves. “They might not be putting out the red carpet for him, JJ Hanrahan, Ian Keatley and Tyler Bleyendaal,” suggested former Munster star Alan Quinlan. “Hopefully, it will bring on everyone who stays but it is an issue, somebody probably has to move.”

Schmidt added: “I think it is a good opportunity for him to get in at No 10, but he is going to get competition from Tyler, Ian, JJ; Bill Johnson is a good young player, so there is going to be competition for him. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either.” Young Bill Johnston – he is six-months younger than Carbery – is also surely in the uppermost thoughts of coach Johann van Graan.

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