23 May, 12:21
The Irish Rugby Supporters Club is delighted to announce that tickets for the GUINNESS Series 2013 will go on sale on ticketmaster.ie at 10am on Thursday, May 30.
The 32-year-old - who had an x-ray on the knock, a slight fracture of the cheekbone, which forced him off in the second half of the 19-13 Celtic League defeat of Leinster last Saturday - has been forced to withdraw under medical advice.
His place is taken by South African Shaun Payne - who moves in from the right wing, with Shannon flyer Mossy Lawlor taking the number 14 shirt.
Alan Gaffney's side - named yesterday morning - shows three changes and one positional switch from last weekend, with Paul Burke deputising for injured fly-half Ronan O'Gara (hand), and fit-again prop John Hayes also coming in for Gordon McIlwham at tighthead.
31-year-old Burke is making his first European start in Munster red, having hit 92 points in thirteen Celtic League outings this season. Gaffney's men are gunning for their third straight victory over Lyn Jones' visitors.
Earlier this week, Leinster had better news on the injury front as they hope to secure quarter final qualification against Bath in Pool 2 this afternoon, at the Rec.
Malcolm O'Kelly shrugged off a groin strain to take his place in the second row, ahead of Ben Gissing, for an 81st provincial cap.
The 30-year-old lock is the only change to Declan Kidney's line-up from last Saturday's league loss to Munster. Leinster are seeking their fifth straight Pool win.
Saturday, January 8: Pool 2: Bath v Leinster, The Recreation Ground, 1.00pm
A full-strength and unbeaten Leinster can pick up their fifth Pool victory and copperfasten their third quarter final berth in four seasons at Bath's Recreation Ground.
John Connolly's home side, who lost both of their festive Zurich Premiership ties to Sale and Saracens, have been stricken by injuries, 8 in total - centres Mike Tindall (shoulder/foot) and Robbie Fleck (calf) are non-starters, but former Wales skipper Jonathan Humphreys has recovered from a heel injury to take his place as hooker.
Alex Crockett - Bath's only try scorer in Dublin - and Olly Barkley - both 23-years-old - will form a makeshift centre partnership.
"The players who come in for Bath will be getting their chance in Europe and have nothing to lose. I have absolutely no doubt as to the challenge facing us," commented Declan Kidney.
"The fact that they lost at the weekend to Saracens, for example, won't do us any favours.
"Teams like Bath don't lose at home, and they will be desperately keen not to lose two in-a-row."
Skipper Reggie Corrigan added, on the subject of October's first meeting: "I remember just what a physical game it was. The scoreline might have flattered us a bit in the end. "For the whole of that game they competed. I'm expecting nothing less than that this weekend and probably a lot more."
O'Kelly's inclusion for Leinster will stymie any lineout doubts that surfaced after Shane Byrne's throw was targeted by Munster on Saturday, and the home side bagged their two tries off close-in set pieces.
An excellent record of five wins in their last seven outings across the water should inject further morale, should Leinster need it.
Having picked up a groin injury when scoring Leinster's second try in October's 30-11 win at Lansdowne Road, Gordon D'Arcy will be eager to show his full fitness, in what is his second start in tandem with Ireland colleague Brian O'Driscoll in little over two months.
Much focus will also be on Kiwi fly-half David Holwell - the second highest points scorers in Europe this season, with 67 points - who hit five from five in a 12-point performance the last time the sides met.
Results so far: Leinster: Round 1: W25-9 Benetton Treviso (away), Round 2: W30-11 Bath (home), Round 3: W92-17 Bourgoin (home), Round 4: W26-23 Bourgoin (away)
(15) Girvan Dempsey (14) Shane Horgan (13) Brian O'Driscoll (12) Gordon D'Arcy (11) Denis Hickie (10) David Holwell (9) Guy Easterby (1) Reggie Corrigan (Capt) (2) Shane Byrne (3) Emmett Byrne (4) Leo Cullen (5) Malcolm O'Kelly (6) Eric Miller (7) Shane Jennings (8) Victor Costello
(16) Ricky Nebbett (17) David Blaney (18) Ciaran Potts (19) Aidan McCullen (20) Brian O'Meara (21) Felipe Contepomi (22) Kieran Lewis
Referee: Joel Jutge (France)
Pool 4: Munster v Neath-Swansea Ospreys, Thomond Park, 5.15pm
Thomond Park. The site of 20 Heineken Cup home wins for the men in red over the past ten seasons. Next weekend's visitors, the Ospreys has said that "records are there to be broken." Come 7.00pm tonight, something has got to give.
Alan Gaffney's side - lying four points clear of the third-placed Welsh and minus first choice fly-half O'Gara - boast 13 Ireland internationals, an All-Black and former Australia and Scotland forwards.
The Ospreys, with numerous Welsh internationals in their ranks, have South Sea gems Dave Tuieti and Elvis Seveali'i to rely on in what could turn out to be a classic.
Add in the recent citings, Richard Mustoe's 12-week stamping suspension and Ryan Jones' sending off in the sides' last meeting last month in Cork, and the stakes are only heightened.
Burke's inclusion should not worry Munster supporters. O'Gara may have been on fire, but the former Harlequin number 10 is still a class act. He has been a solid start since joining in the summer, but his European bow will surely prove a baptism.
Despite Henderson's evident form (3 tries in nine Celtic League games), 32-year-old Payne is an able deputy in midfield, striking for four touchdowns in 12 outings in the league too.
October's 20-18 win at the Gnoll will count for little on the day, and Gaffney, for one, knows that.
"If we don't win this one we could be in all sorts of trouble - we could find ourselves going from top to third in Pool 4 and that would leave us having to go to Twickenham to play Harlequins in the final round with someone else in the driving seat," admitted the former Randwick and NSW coach.
"We must make maximum use of our final home game and our fantastic support. The fans were brilliant against Castres and I am sure they will do the same for the visit of the Ospreys.
"However, we know it is down to us to do the job out on the pitch and we will have to play well to get the result.
"I was extremely happy with the performance against Castres but we will have to go up another gear from that against the Ospreys," added the Australian.
Munster skipper Anthony Foley will also be making his 65th appearance in the Heineken Cup. An all-the-more incredible statistic when you realise that today's Pool tie is the province's 66th outing in the competition since 1995.
If it goes Foley and Gaffney's way, Munster will chalk up their 25th straight Heineken Cup home win.
Some record, for some province.
Results so far: Munster: Round 1: W15-9 NEC Harlequins (home), Round 2: W20-18 Ospreys (away), Round 3: L19-12 Castres (away), Round 4: W36-8 Castres (home)
(15) Christian Cullen (14) Mossy Lawlor (13) Shaun Payne (12) Mike Mullins (11) Anthony Horgan (10) Paul Burke (9) Peter Stringer (1) Marcus Horan (2) Frankie Sheahan (3) John Hayes (4) Donncha O'Callaghan (5) Paul O'Connell (6) Alan Quinlan (7) Denis Leamy (8) Anthony Foley (Capt)
(16) Gordon McIlwham (17) Jerry Flannery (18) Trevor Hogan (19) Jim Williams (20) Mike Prendergast (21) Jason Holland (22) James Storey
Referee: Chris White (England)