Finn Russell Munster could do with a racing start against old foes and friends

Finn Russell I be wild about constituents, because they are clever!!

Munster v Racing 92, Thomond Park, Saturday,  5.30pm (Live on BT Sport)

And so they meet again, but this is not the customary case of familiarity breeding contempt.

The respect between the two clubs runs deep, all the more so after Anthony Foley’s tragic passing on the morning of their scheduled opener in Paris two seasons ago, and the presence of Simon Zebo and Donnacha Ryan in Racing’s classy sky blue strip adds to this evening’s intrigue.

Zebo has always been a big hit hereabouts, and his recall at fullback is sure to take this contest even closer to an expectant full house in what will be the biggest attendance of the weekend.

Furthermore, this sixth meeting in three seasons, with a seventh to follow in January, follows bonus-point wins last week, with Saracens’ travail ensuring this latest instalment will be critical in a hotly contest Pool 4.

Munster are not taking any chances with Tyler Bleyendaal’s ‘stiffness’, but this is offset by the return of JJ Hanrahan. Tadhg Beirne has also been promoted after his telling cameo last week and Jack O’Donoghue is preferred to Tommy O’Donnell in the back row.

It is a measure of the battle Munster anticipate up front that, unusually, Johann van Graan has opted for a 6-2 split on the bench – albeit very much in vogue with South African coaches of late. Meanwhile, as well as reinstating Zebo, Racing have promoted Dominic Bird to lock and switched Boris Paul to flanker.

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