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Do You Agree With Our Combined Munster And Leinster XV?

Do You Agree With Our Combined Munster And Leinster XV?
By Gavan Casey
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Munster welcome back Peter O'Mahony tomorrow as they travel to Leinster in search of a repeat of their 2014 victory at the Aviva Stadium. Leo Cullen's, however, has other ideas, handing a debut to new recruit Robbie Henshaw at inside centre where he'll partner Garry Ringrose.

In the interest of vitriolic controversy and abuse, we've compiled a combined XV of both sides, based on form, using only players who are available for tomorrow's fixture.

Here's how it lines out.

15) Zane Kirchner (Leinster)

Consistent as ever at 32. The former Super Rugby winner remains one of the first names on Leo Cullen's teamsheet, and provides more-than-adequate fullback cover for the injury-plagued Rob Kearney.

14) Darren Sweetnam (Munster)

Cork hurling's loss has, all of a sudden, become Munster's gain. A two-try performance in pre-season saw head coach Rassie Erasmus predict a breakthrough season for the athletic outside back. Thrilling Pro 12 performances have followed, and Sweetnam is now knocking on the door of Joe Schmidt's international setup.

13) Keith Earls (Munster)

He and Rory Scannell, should they both remain fit, will prove a potent centre combination for Munster. Earls thrives off a go-forward inside centre with good hands, and Scannell fits the bill. He'll play much of tomorrow's game on the gain-line looking for offloads, and remains as explosive as ever when he gets decent ball. His tackling, too, has improved drastically since he was creased by Hosea Gear down in New Zealand in 2012.

12) Robbie Henshaw (Leinster)

Makes his Leinster debut at 12 tomorrow alongside Garry Ringrose, which may offer Irish rugby fans a sign of things to come in the middle of the park. Game-breaking ability notwithstanding, Henshaw's greatest asset may well be the work he does around the park; he can, like a certain Leinster centre before him, become almost a utility 7 when required.


11) Simon Zebo (Munster)

Seems to have found his niche at fullback for club, but a dearth of suitable left wingers sees him revert to his position of old in this combined XV. The aim for Munster's top try scorer ever will be to try and nail down that 15 spot at international level, and a full season there - under defensive guru Rassie Erasmus and co - will do his chances no harm.

10) Johnny Sexton (Leinster)


A shoo-in, considering his ability and Munster's comparative troubles at 10. But for Munster and possibly even Ireland, the fit-again Tyler Bleyendaal has finally begun to fulfil some of the potential which saw him brought across from Canterbury last year.

9) Conor Murray (Munster)

The gap between Murray and his chasing pack of Irish scrum-halves has widened significantly in recent weeks. One of Ireland's most important players, and one of the finest of his kind on the planet.


8) CJ Stander (Munster)

Just watch his Sky Sports player mic cameo from a fortnight ago and try to argue with us that CJ Stander is one of the greatest men alive.

7) Jordi Murphy (Leinster)

Has added a consistency that lacked during the earlier stages of his career, and put in a monumental effort during Ireland's test victory in South Africa. Murphy's groundwork has improved tenfold over the past 18 months, and the 25-year-old carried well from no.8 in Glasgow a fortnight ago.

6) Peter O'Mahony (Munster)

Munster's talisman starts his first club game in over a year tomorrow, after a long-awaited return off the bench in last week's victory over Zebre. Those close to O'Mahony claim he may only have three to four years left in his career, such is the recklessness of the abandon with which he treats his own body. If he can stay fit, we should see peak O'Mahony, who has been quietly hampered by shoulder problems throughout his career, but has had them addressed while sidelined with his knee.


5) Donnacha Ryan (Munster)

His versatility is one of his greatest assets, as he returns to lock this weekend to allow Munster captain Peter O'Mahony regain his rightful place in the back row. His work around the field is grossly unheralded; Ryan remains one of Ireland's most underrated forwards.

4) Devin Toner (Leinster)

A given, considering his form for province and country over the past two seasons.

3) Tadgh Furlong (Leinster)

A coming force in the Leinster and even Ireland pack, the 23-year-old Wexford man recently hailed Mike Ross' influence on his development. Shades of Ross can be found in Furlong's scrummaging, but he's more dynamic around the park.


2) Seán Cronin (Leinster)

The Limerick man returns tomorrow in place of James Tracy, with Bryan Byrne left out altogether. Remains a ferocious ball carrier at 30, and Munster really can't compete in the hooker position due to constant injuries - though new Kiwi signing Rhys Marshall, who arrives in Limerick from Super Rugby's Chiefs, might well have a say in that when the return fixture rocks around.

1) Jack McGrath (Leinster)

McGrath completes an all-Leinster front row, though starts on the bench tomorrow as he returns to fitness, with Cian Healy deputising for the 26-year-old. Simply put, one of the finest loosehead props in world rugby, and could make a huge impact off the bench on the hour mark at the Aviva.

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