URC start with Munster for Clarke

Eoghan Clarke will start for Munster on the New Year's Day clash with Connacht. Photo: Brendan Moran.

EOGHAN Clarke will make his first Munster start in the New Year’s Day URC Inter-pro derby against Connacht at the Sportsground, Galway (3pm).

Clarke (25) spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021.

A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last Autumn. The Dubliner rejoined Munster in November.

There are seven personnel changes and one positional switch from the side that lost at home to Leinster on St Stephen’s Day.

Tadhg Beirne returns to captain the side with Fineen Wycherley back after a shoulder injury as Academy out-half Tony Butler, Conor Murray, Rory Scannell and Jeremy Loughman also slot into the starting XV.

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There is a positional switch for Gavin Coombes as he moves into the back row.

Simon Zebo, Calvin Nash, and Shane Daly start in an unchanged back three.

Scannell and Antoine Frisch partner up in midfield with Murray and Butler in the half-backs.

Loughman, Clarke, and Oli Jager pack down in the front row with Wycherley and Beirne in the engine room.

Tom Ahern, John Hodnett and Coombes complete the side with Hodnett making his 50th Munster appearance.

Scott Buckley, Josh Wycherley, and John Ryan provide the front row back-up with Jack O’Donoghue and Alex Kendellen completing the forward cover.

Paddy Patterson, Seán O’Brien, and Academy winger Shay McCarthy are the backline replacements.

In line with IRFU player management guidelines, Craig Casey and Jack Crowley were unavailable for selection.

Munster: Simon Zebo; Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; Tony Butler, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Eoghan Clarke, Oli Jager; Fineen Wycherley, Tadhg Beirne (captain); Tom Ahern, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Scott Buckley, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Jack O’Donoghue, Alex Kendellen, Paddy Patterson, Seán O’Brien, Shay McCarthy.