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

Wales 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-times capped flanker hasn’t featured since the Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat to London Irish at the beginning of April due to a calf injury.

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

Botham, who had three outings off the bench during Wales’ Six Nations title-winning campaign, starts on the openside as one of two changes from the side which beat the Scarlets last time out.

The other alteration is in the front row, with Corey Domachowski packing down at loosehead prop.

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

Josh Turnbull captains the team from the blindside as he moves to third in the PRO14’s all-time appearance chart, making his 207th outing, overtaking former Scotland hooker Ross Ford.

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

Director of rugby Dai Young said: “We’re not too far away from what most people would perceive as our best 23 from the boys that are available.

“We’re not holding back for this one.

“It’s a bit tight in the back three and centre for us, but it’s good to welcome Matthew Morgan back.

“That’s a bonus because we didn’t expect him to be back until next week against Zebre.”

The Blues will be seeking a first win in Munster since 2016, when a Tom James brace of tries inspired a win in Cork. They have never secured victory in Limerick, so there’s a chance for them to make history.

Munster head into the game on the back of a home defeat to Connacht last time out, but sit in second place in the European Rainbow Cup table, a point ahead of Cardiff and four adrift of unbeaten leaders Benetton.

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

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

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

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

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

Replacements : 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 (capt), 7. James Ratti, 8. James Botham.

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

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

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