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Munster’s three Lions are ready to roar

Munster’s three Lions are ready to roar

Not since 2011 have Munster lifted the Guinness PRO12 title but after finishing top of the standings in the regular season this year, optimism is high that they can repeat the trick.

Not since 2011 have Munster lifted the Guinness PRO12 title but after finishing top of the standings in the regular season this year, optimism is high that they can repeat the trick.

On Saturday, they welcome Ospreys to Thomond Park for their semi-final and the Irish province have been boosted by the inclusion of their three British & Irish Lions.

In the back row, both Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander get the nod while Conor Murray will pull the strings at scrum half.

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CONOR’S COMEBACK
 
Murray made his return from a shoulder problem in the final round of the regular season for Munster, coming off the bench as they downed Connacht.

A Test Lion in 2013 when he came on as a replacement in the decisive final clash with the Wallabies, since then, Murray has cemented himself as one of the world’s best No 9s.

He was instrumental to Ireland’s historic win over the All Blacks back in November of last year in Chicago, as well as playing key roles in wins over Australia and South Africa.

He will be eyeing the No 9 jersey for the 2017 Lions in New Zealand but before that, his focus will be on matters Munster, and his first start back from his injury is a great chance to prove his fitness and form to Warren Gatland and the coaching staff.
 
PETER’S A ROCK
 
Munster have been a team inspired this season – the tragic passing of Anthony Foley in October has lifted them to their former heights.

And few have epitomised that more than flanker O’Mahony, who has captained the side with class and commitment.
 

@thomondstadium #MUNvOSP pic.twitter.com/Xo1TZkVESl

— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) May 19, 2017


In the green of Ireland, his man-of-the-match display to down England in Dublin in March was decisive in earning his Lions selection.

And he has carried his form on for his province as Munster made the European Champions Cup semi-finals this year before being downed by eventual champions Saracens.

They also finished top of the regular season standings in the Guinness PRO12 and welcome Ospreys for a third semi-final clash in the play-off era, desperate to secure a final berth.
 
CJ’S OUTSTANDING
 
More often than not, CJ Stander wears the No 8 jersey for his province Munster, with his Lions colleague O’Mahony at blind-side flanker.

For Ireland, Stander has largely been on the blindside, but his titanic showing against England at No 8 proved his versatility at both club and international level.

This weekend against the Ospreys, the tireless back-row forward will be looking to dent the Ospreys defensive wall.

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Always looking for work on both sides of the ball, the South African-born adopted Munsterman is still waiting for his first silverware in the red of Munster.

And this weekend’s semi-final will be a fantastic opportunity to state his case for the Lions while helping his province back to the Grand Final following their defeat to Glasgow Warriors in 2015.

TEAMS

Munster: Zebo, Conway, Saili, Scannell, Earls, Bleyendaal, Murray, Kilcoyne, Scannell, Ryan, J., Ryan, D., Holland, O’Mahony (capt), O’Donnell, Stander.

Replacements: Marshall, Cronin, Archer, Deysel, O’Donoghue, Williams, Keatley, Taute.

Ospreys: Evans, Giles, Fonotia, Beck, Habberfield, Biggar, Webb, Smith, Baldwin, Jones, Davies, Jones (capt), Underhill, King, Tipuric.

Replacements: Otten, James, Suter, Ashley, Cracknell, Leonard, Davies, Matavesi.

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