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Racing 92 v Munster, Paris La Defense Arena, Sunday, 4.15pm local time/3.15pm Irish – Live on BT Sport
The natives are restless and even some of their ex-teammates are assailing them from all angles over their form of late. They’ve just come off an ignominious beating by one of their domestic rivals and, facing a daunting assignment to keep their Heineken Champions Cup hopes alive, not many still believe.
In other words they’ve backed themselves into a corner again. But if history has taught us anything it is that Munster will come out swinging and produce a big European performance in time-honoured fashion.
The believers will have been encouraged by their team announcement, with JJ Hanrahan having overcome the hamstring injury which forced his withdrawal in the defeat by Leinster and ruled him out of that Ulster loss.
Furthermore, Mike Haley, Chris Farrell, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland and CJ Stander also return while, like Haley, Andrew Conway has been passed fit. Yes, Munster have only won two of their last seven matches but effectively this is the core of the side that has lost only one of six this season – a full-on, ultra-competitive game away to Saracens.
As expected, Simon Zebo has been ruled out of another reunion with his former team due to the broken metatarsal he sustained last week at the end of the early 60-metre counter-attack which kick-started their 27-19 win over Clermont.
Surprisingly, despite spooking Munster’s lineout on the last three occasions the sides have met, Donnacha Ryan has again been left on the bench. Munster won’t be sorry to see that.
Hence, apart from Brice Dulin at fullback, captain Henry Chavancy at inside centre, Juan Imhoff on the left wing, Wenceslas Lauret at blindside and Antonie Claassen at number eight all return.
But Stander and Farrell alone will give Munster’s attacking game
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