Beirne captains Munster into Europe

A dejected Tadgh Beirne of Munster after the United Rugby Championship match between Dragons and Munster. Photo: Ben Evans.

TADHG Beirne, 31, will captain Munster in Saturday’s Champions Cup opener with Bayonne at Thomond Park, 5.20pm.

The team features six changes to the starting XV from last week’s win over Glasgow Warriors.

There are three Academy players in the squad with first year winger Shay McCarthy starting on his Champions Cup debut.

Rory Scannell, Conor Murray, Scott Buckley, John Ryan and Fineen Wycherley also come into the side.

Calvin Nash starts at full-back for Munster for the first time, Tom Ahern makes his first Champions Cup debut, as does Alex Nankivell.

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Full-back Nash is joined in the back three by wingers McCarthy and Seán O’Brien, who makes his first Champions Cup appearance for Munster.

Scannell and Nankivell start together in midfield with Murray and Jack Crowley in the half-backs.

Jeremy Loughman, Buckley and John Ryan pack down in the front row with Wycherley and captain Beirne in the engine room.

Ahern, John Hodnett and Gavin Coombes once again link-up in the back row.

Jack O’Donoghue returns from an ankle injury to take his place among the replacements.

On the injury front, Academy lock Edwin Edogbo, Diarmuid Barron, Shane Daly and Oli Jager were unavailable for selection due to minor injuries.

Patrick Campbell (ankle) and Simon Zebo (knee) also miss out.

Munster: Calvin Nash; Shay McCarthy, Alex Nankivell, Rory Scannell, Seán O’Brien; Jack Crowley, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Scott Buckley, John Ryan; Fineen Wycherley, Tadhg Beirne (captain); Tom Ahern, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, Josh Wycherley, Stephen Archer, Jack O’Donoghue, Alex Kendellen, Craig Casey, Tony Butler, Ben O’Connor.