DAN GOGGIN’S EXCELLENT early-season form has been rewarded with a start in the Munster midfield for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup opener against Exeter Chiefs, but scrum-half Alby Mathewson has been ruled out through injury.

Goggin will make his first European debut at Sandy Park tomorrow afternoon [KO 3.15pm, BT Sport], as Johann van Graan’s side open their Pool 2 campaign against the Premiership leaders.

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Goggin has been in excellent early-season form. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

The Munster head coach has made four changes in personnel from the side which pushed Leinster close in last week’s inter-pro, as Mike Haley, Rory Scannell, Duncan Williams and Chris Cloete all come into the starting XV.

Mathewson has failed to shake off the knee injury he sustained at the Aviva Stadium last week, with Williams drafted in to deputise in the nine jersey in a half-back pairing with Joey Carbery.

Neil Cronin, having recovered from a shoulder injury suffered in round two of the Guinness Pro14, is named on the bench.

After missing the last two games through injury, Mike Haley returns at fullback which means Andrew Conway shifts to the right wing and Keith Earls makes his 155th appearance for the southern province on the left flank.

Goggin switches to outside centre to partner the returning Scannell in the Munster midfield, while Carbery starts his fifth straight game in the pivot position. 

Up front, van Graan has named an unchanged front row of Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer, with the second row partnership of Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne contuining for the round one clash in Devon. 

The inclusion of Cloete in the back row is the only change to the pack, with the South African replacing Tommy O’Donnell at openside, while Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander continue at six and seven. 

Cronin is in line to make his return from injury off the replacements bench, which also includes Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, the fit-again John Ryan, Billy Holland, O’Donnell, JJ Hanrahan and Sammy Arnold.

Meanwhile, Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter has made just one change for the visit of Munster with former Ulster centre Ian Whitten returning to the team to partner Henry Slade in midfield. The hosts will be captained by Irish out-half Gareth Steenson.

Exeter Chiefs:

15. Phil Dollman
14. Jack Nowell
13. Henry Slade
12. Ian Whitten
11. Santiago Cordero
10. Gareth Steenson (captain)
9. Stuart Townsend

1. Ben Moon
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie
3. Harry Williams
4. Dave Dennis
5. Sam Skinner
6. Dave Ewers
7. Don Armand
8. Matt Kvesic.


16. Jack Yeandle
17. Alec Hepburn
18. Tomas Francis
19. Ollie Atkins
20. Tom Lawday
21. Jack Maunder
22. Joe Simmonds
23. Sam Hill. 


15. Mike Haley
14. Andrew Conway
13. Dan Goggin
12. Rory Scannell
11. Keith Earls
10. Joey Carbery
9. Duncan Williams

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. Stephen Archer
4. Jean Kleyn
5. Tadhg Beirne
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Chris Cloete
8. CJ Stander.  


16. Rhys Marshall
17. James Cronin
18. John Ryan
19. Billy Holland
20. Tommy O’Donnell
21. Neil Cronin
22. JJ Hanrahan
23. Sammy Arnold. 

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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