Counting down the days to Sale Sharks v Munster we look at the match ups between the two sides. Today we look at the key battles in the backs.
Starting a scrum-half, facing up against Chris Cusiter will probably be Ireland and Lions scrum-half Conor Murray. He has made his way through the Munster academy, and is now the provinces number 1 choice scrum-half. He made his debut for Munster as a replacement in a pre-season friendly against Sale in 2009. He battled his way into the Ireland setup and is a regular pick in the matchday squad for the international side. He has been capped 28 times for his country and at the age of 25 and will no doubt be involved for many years to come. Murray was voted Munster Rugby Player of the Year at the Munster Rugby Awards this year.
At fly-half for Munster, Ian Keatley has established himself as the man in possession of the number 10 shirt. Originally from Leinster, the fly-half signed for Munster in 2011, and he has replaced the huge gap left by Ronan O'Gara. He made his Ireland debut in 2009, but has only played twice for the main side. He has impressed last season for the side, and was nominated for the Munster Rugby Senior Player of the Year 2014 award, but he lost out to Conor Murray. He has started this season in good form, kicking 21 points in the sides 34-23 win over Leinster. His battle against Danny Cipriani will prove to be vital in the game.
In the back three, Munster are blessed with players with a lot of talent and ability to exploit any gaps in a defensive line. Lining up on the wing for the Irish side will be Simon Zebo. The 24-year old has started the season in superb form, scoring four tries in four games and will be looking to increase his try tally. A member of the Munster academy, Zebo established himself in the first team in 2011 and he impressed in his first season of rugby. This led to him being called up for the Ireland side, making his debut against the Barbarians at Kingsholm in 2012. He has played 8 times for Ireland and was called up for the British and Irish Lions in 2013 as injury cover for Tommy Bowe, and played in the midweek matches. He has extended his deal at the club to 2016, and will be looking to improve his try tally for the club. Zebo will be up against Tom Brady and Tom Arscott who have both started the season in great form, with Arscott the leading try scorer in the Aviva Premiership.
Playing at full-back for Munster is Felix Jones. He joined Munster from Leinster in 2009 after two years in their academy. He is the first-choice full back for Munster, and has captained them this season on a number of occasions, demonstrating what the province think of him. His career to date has been plagued with injuries, with one costing him a place in the Ireland Rugby World Cup squad in 2011. But he has fought his way back from injury, and back playing for Ireland and will be looking to increase his six caps for his country. Jones will be up against Luke McLean, the Italian full-back. He has settled well into life at Sale Sharks so will be looking to dominate proceedings from the back. THE GAME AGAINST MUNSTER IS ON SATURDAY 18TH OCTOBER KICK OFF 1PM. TICKETS ARE AVAILBLE AND CAN BE BOOKED BY PHONING 08444-994-994. IF YOU REQUIRE A CALL BACK PLEASE EMAIL YOUR NAME AND NUMBER TOinfo@salesharks.com