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Conor Murray makes return for Munster

Updated: Friday, 10 Jan 2014 12:48 | Comments

Conor Murray has been out of action with a knee injury since 8 December
Conor Murray has been out of action with a knee injury since 8 December

Munster coach Rob Penney has rung the changes ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Cup clash against Gloucester at Kingsholm Stadium, with Conor Murray’s inclusion one of six personnel changes to the side beaten by Ulster last weekend.

Murray, who will be making his 50th appearance for the province, has been sidelined with a knee injury suffered in the 36-8 victory over Perpignan five weeks ago.

Hooker Damien Varley retains his place in the starting XV despite limping off at Ravenhill with a foot injury.

Aside from Murray, there are three other changes in the backs with Keith Earls, Johne Murphy and James Downey all returning to the side.

Earls is back on the right wing after missing out last week with a bruised shoulder, with Downey, who missed out with a groin strain, returning to partner Casey Laulala in the centre.

Murphy comes into the side on the left wing with out-half Ian Keatley and full-back Felix Jones keeping their places in the starting XV.

There are two changes in the forwards as BJ Botha and Dave Foley are drafted into the pack.

Penney has gone for an international front row with props Dave Kilcoyne and South African Botha either side of Varley.

Foley is included after impressing off the bench against Ulster last weekend and he partners Ireland captain Paul O'Connell in the second row.

Simon Zebo is named on the bench as he returns to the squad for the first time since cracking a bone in his foot against Edinburgh in October.

Donncha O'Callaghan and JJ Hanrahan are also amongst the replacements after encountering their own recent injury issues.

Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Johne Murphy; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Dave Foley, Paul O'Connell; Peter O'Mahony (Captain), Tommy O'Donnell, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Donncha O'Callaghan, CJ Stander, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Simon Zebo.

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