Munster v Cardiff Blues team news as Six Nations winner Wales returns after eight weeks

Welsh international James Botham will make his first Cardiff Blues appearance in eight weeks in Friday night’s PRO14 Rainbow Cup clash with Munster in Limerick (7.35pm kick-off).

The six-time flanker has not featured since the Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to the London Irish in early April due to a calf injury.

But now he’s back for the trip to Thomond Park as the Blues look to keep their hopes of reaching the North Rainbow Cup final, which takes place at the Stadio di Monigo in Treviso on June 19, alive.

Botham, who made three appearances on the bench in Wales’ Six Nations title-winning campaign, starts on the open side as one of two changes to the side that beat the Scarlets last time around.

The other alteration is in the first row, with Corey Domachowski grabbing the loosehead accessory.

Lions winger Josh Adams is named in an unchanged rear division.

Josh Turnbull leads the team on the blind side as he moves up to third in the all-time PRO14 standings, making his 207th outing, passing former Scottish hooker Ross Ford.

There are returns on the bench for mainstay Dmitri Arhip and full-back Matthew Morgan, both of whom have recovered from injury.

Rugby Director Dai Young said: “We’re not too far off what most people would perceive to be our top 23 boys available.

“We’re not holding back for this one.

“It’s a little tight in the full three and center for us, but it’s good to welcome Matthew Morgan again.

“It’s a bonus because we didn’t expect him to return until next week against Zebre.”

The Blues will seek their first win in Munster since 2016, when a double test from Tom James inspired a win in Cork. They have never achieved victory in Limerick so there is a chance for them to make history.

Munster came into the game after a home loss to Connacht last time around, but sits second in the Rainbow European Cup standings, one point ahead of Cardiff and four behind undefeated leaders Benetton.

“Munster is great at home and it’s a fantastic challenge,” said Young.

“If we’re looking for a statement to show that we’re headed in the right direction, this is a great place to get that statement.

“To go out there and get a result would be huge for us. History tells us that we don’t do it too often, but it’s important that we start tackling these challenges head-on.”

Munster captain CJ Stander and rower Tommy O’Donnell are expected to make their final appearances at Thomond Park, with both players retiring at the end of the season.

Muenster: 15. Mike Haley, 14th Andrew Conway, 13th Damian de Allende, 12th Rory Scannell, 11th Shane Daly, 10th Joey Carbery, 9th Craig Casey, 1st James Cronin, 2nd Niall Scannell, 3rd Stephen Archer, 4. Jean Kleyn, 5. Fineen Wycherley, 6. Jack O’Donoghue, 7. CJ Stander (captain), 8. Tommy O’Donnell.

Substitutes : 16. Diarmuid Barron, 17. Jeremy Loughman, 18. Keynan Knox, 19. Gavin Coombes, 20. Peter O’Mahony, 21, Nick McCarthy, 22. Jack Crowley, 23. Jack O’Sullivan.

Cardiff Blues: 15. Hallam Amos, 14. Jason Harries, 13. Willis Halaholo, 12. Ben Thomas, 11. Josh Adams, 10. Jarrod Evans, 9. Tomos Williams, 1. Corey Domachowski, 2. Kristian Dacey, 3. Dillon Lewis, 4. Seb Davies, 5. Cory Hill, 6. Josh Turnbull (Captain (N)), 7. James Ratti, 8. James Botham.

Substitutes: 16. Liam Belcher, 17th Rhys Carré, 18th Dmitri Arhip, 19th Rory Thornton, 20th Olly Robinson, 21st Lloyd Williams, 22nd Harri Millard, 23rd Matthew Morgan.

Arbitrator: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

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