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Conor Murray misses out as Rassie Erasmus picks strong team to face Saracens

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 21/04/2017

Conor Murray of Munster © Provided by Irish Independent Conor Murray of Munster As expected, Conor Murray has failed to be fit in time for Munster's Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens in the Aviva Stadium tomorrow but there is better news for CJ Stander.

Lions boss Warren Gatland revealed this week that Murray's "stinger" injury is more serious than first thought and he does not make the match-day 23 for Rassie Erasmus' men.

Stander has overcome an ankle injury sustained against Toulouse in the quarter-final to take his place in the starting 15.

Stander is one of five changes to the side that defeated Ulster in the Guinness PRO12 last weekend in Thomond Park.  The Ireland international, most recently named in his first Lions squad, is the only change to the pack as he joins Lions’ colleague Peter O’Mahony and Tommy O’Donnell in the back row.

An unchanged front five sees Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan scrum down in the front row while the squad’s most capped duo of Donnacha Ryan and Billy Holland continue their second row partnership.

With late changes to the side last weekend the half back pairing of Duncan Williams and Tyler Bleyendaal return to start for Saturday’s encounter.

Centre Jaco Taute also makes a return as he resumes his European midfield partnership with Rory Scannell who has been deemed fit to play after a knock to his ankle last weekend.

The final change comes by way of winger Andrew Conway who joins Keith Earls and Simon Zebo in the back three.

Named in the replacements is Jean Deysel who will make his Champions Cup debut if sprung from the bench.

Munster:  Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (Capt.), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements:  Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Dave O’Callaghan, Jean Deysel, Ian Keatley, Francis Saili, Darren Sweetnam.

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