Munster take on Cardiff Blues this Saturday in the Pro 12 in Cardiff at at 5.15pm, and will be looking to bounce back from last week’s off day against the Scarlets.
For 40 minutes against Scarlets, Munster were imperious. Unfortunately for the other 40 they fell asleep at the wheel. However, this slip up represents a mere blip on what has been a hugely improved season to date.
Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has made five changes and names Billy Holland as captain. In two changes to the pack Darren O’Shea comes in to partner Holland in the second row with Robin Copeland making his return from a thumb injury to start at number eight.
Backline adjustments see Ian Keatley re-join Duncan Williams in the half backs with Rory Scannell and Jaco Taute resuming their partnership in midfield. Scannell has bounced back form a knee injury while Taute has made to switch from full back.
The final changes sees the ever consistent Andrew Conway return at fullback.
Munster will be without the bulk of their international contingent as Joe Schmidt’s panel prepare for the final two weeks of the 6 Nations and are still well in the running for the title.
Cardiff will also have players gone on international duty for Wales. They will be without players such as Sam Warburton who is the Former Wales and Lions Captain. This will give a lot of players in both camps a chance to step up and earn their place.
Munster were further buoyed earlier this week by the news that Mark Chisholm is now back in training. The former Australian international hasn’t played for the province since March 2016 as he was forced to take an extended break because of a concussion he picked up.
Sam Arnold and Rory Scannell also return from injury to full training. The likes of Rhys Marshall, and Munster Academy Star Dan Goggin will be pushing hard to perform well especially Goggin as he had a Pro 12 debut last weekend.
For the Cardiff Blues who are coming into this game after a one point win against Edinburgh last weekend they will be looking to get a good win on their side especially against Munster as the beat them in a one point game as well in Irish Independent Park in the opening games of the Pro 12 season last September by 24-23.
Munster Coach Rassie Erasmus will be looking closely at some of Cardiff’s key players such as Alex Cuthbert, Lloyd Williams, Josh Sion Bennett and former Munster player Nick Williams.
Despite losing to Scarlets last time out, Munster remain 6 points clear of the West Wales side and just two off Leinster at the summit. Depending on other results, a win could take Munster back top.
Either way way, Munster should have enough strength in depth to get a win on the road in Cardiff and keep the momentum going towards a top two finish and a home semi final.
Prediction: Munster to win in a close encounter.