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Henderson Back For Munster

Henderson Back For Munster

Centre Rob Henderson has shaken off a facial injury to be named in the Munster side for tomorrow’s eagerly-awaited Heineken Cup Pool 4 clash with NEC Harlequins.

Centre Rob Henderson has shaken off a facial injury to be named in the Munster side for tomorrow’s eagerly-awaited Heineken Cup Pool 4 clash with NEC Harlequins.

Coach Alan Gaffney has made just one change from the XV that defeated the Ospreys 20-10 last Saturday, with 32-year-old Henderson resuming at outside centre, and Shaun Payne shifting back to the right wing, at the expense of the benched Mossy Lawlor.

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Meanwhile, Challenge Cup quarter-finalists Connacht have made two personnel changes, and two positional switches in the backline, with Matt Lacey and Matt Mostyn returning from injury.

Last week’s try scoring hero James Downey moves back to outside centre, with place kicker Paul Warwick on his shoulder outside, and Darren Yapp on the right wing.

Michael Bradley’s side hold a five-point lead (26-21) from the first leg.

Ulster coach Mark McCall has made six changes for Sunday’s Heineken Cup Pool 6 visit to Cardiff.

He has rested Rod Moore in an all-changed front row, fullback Bryn Cunningham is replaced by Paddy Wallace – in a rare start – with Andy Maxwell replacing the injured Tyrone Howe, and Rowan Frost and Andy Ward – who reassumes the captaincy – taking over from Gary Longwell and Campbell Feather.

Already qualified for the Cup’s last eight, Pool 2 winners Leinster will hope to secure a home quarter final when taking on Benetton Treviso at Lansdowne Road tomorrow. Coach Declan Kidney has kept faith with his side who scored two tries in the final four minutes to edge Bath 27-23 last week.

Saturday, January 15:
Heineken Cup, Pool 4:
NEC Harlequins v Munster, Twickenham, 1.00pm

Munster return to Twickenham, the scene of their 2000 Heineken Cup final loss to Northampton tomorrow, aiming to cement their place in this season’s quarter finals.

68,441 watched that game, a then record for the decider and tomorrow’s tie is set to break the record for a pool game with over 30,000 spectators expected at the London venue.

The province’s opposition, NEC Harlequins have nothing but pride to fight for, as they sit bottom of Pool 4 on three points.

Munster coach Alan Gaffney has watched his side pick up 18 points in five games, but a wounded ‘Quins animal could wreck their last eight hopes.

Mark Evans’ side suffered heavy losses to both Castres (58-13) and the Ospreys (46-19) in recent weeks, and will provide stiff opposition, despite missing a number of regulars.

Andre Vos (ankle), George Harder (dislocated finger), Will Greenwood (shoulder), Mike Worsley (back), Tani Fuga (knee), Maurice FitzGerald (back), Jim Evans (shoulder) and Adrian Jarvis (illness) are all unavailable, with both Simon Maling and Geo Cronje not registered for the tournament.

33-year-old former England internationals Tony Diprose captains the home side, with Ireland international Gavin Duffy at fullback, ex-Ireland A centre Mel Deane in midfield and former Leinster backs Andy Dunne at number 10, and Simon Keogh replacing Harder on the right wing.

Former Munster back Jeremy Staunton features on the ‘Quins bench.

Staunton’s former team mate Anthony Foley – who scored his twentieth try in 65 Heineken Cup appearances last weekend – knows Munster cannot afford to underestimate the Quins’ challenge.

“We know what we’re facing,” said 31-year-old Foley, who was this week named in Ireland’s 2005 RBS 6 Nations squad.

“We had a really tough day against them in Limerick and will give them total respect. People might say certain things and assume that recent results will be in our favour, but we saw what Harlequins were capable of the last time, despite the fact that they were coming off the back of a succession of defeats.

“We are totally focused on this one – totally determined that we need to show a big improvement,” he added.

Foley’s charges failed to impress when beating the Ospreys last Saturday at Thomond Park, but a renewed effort – together with another solid display with the boot from Paul Burke – who is making his first trip back to London since leaving ‘Quins in the summer – should see Munster through.

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), Round 5; W20-10 Ospreys (home)


(15) Christian Cullen
(14) Shaun Payne
(13) Rob Henderson
(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) Jerry Flannery
(17) Gordon McIlwham
(18) Trevor Hogan
(19) Jim Williams
(20) Mike Prendergast
(21) Jason Holland
(22) Mossy Lawlor

Referee: Joel Jutge (France)

Pool 2:
Leinster v Benetton Treviso, Lansdowne Road, 5.15pm

Leinster may be already quarter final-bound, but coach Declan Kidney will still be expecting his side to rack up their sixth win on the trot in Pool 2.

Late tries from David Holwell – the tournament’s top scorer on 84 points – and lock Malcolm O’Kelly helped them edge Bath at the death at the Rec in Round 5, but it was a far from accomplished display.

Their pack was bossed about, and the visit of second-placed Treviso – conquerors of Bourgoin, both home-and-away – gives them ample chance to prove their doubters wrong.

History is against them in the fact that as in 2002/03, if they pick up the maximum six wins from six, the province will face the fact that no side with a 100% pool record has ever gone on to win the competition.

But Kidney – who has named an unchanged side – is more concerned with the here and now, and former All-Black Craig Green’s bustling side.

“You ask any of the players who have played in the last six or seven years and one of the most physical games you play is against the Italians at international level, but also at European level,” said the Corkman on Wednesday.

“The consequences of losing are enormous.

“If we win on Saturday we can get a home quarter-final, but if we lose, and they are well capable of beating us, it means we’ll be away in the next round so we’d have thrown away all the good work of the first five rounds.”

Leinster’s Shane Horgan is so far, joint-top try scorer (4) with Leicester’s Harry Ellis in the tournament, and he will face a Red Panthers’ backline which includes, according to Kidney, “one of the best broken field runners in Europe”, namely Treviso fullback Brendan Williams.

The Italians could still qualify as runners-up, but need a bonus point win and that looks beyond them despite their heroics in France.

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), Round 5: W27-23 Bath (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: Eric Darriere (France)

Challenge Cup: Quarter final, Second leg:
Connacht (26) v Grenoble (21), The Sportsground, 2.00pm

Connacht’s quest for a second successive Challenge Cup semi-final appearance hangs on tomorrow’s visit of French side Grenoble to the Sportsground. If things go their way, Michael Bradley’s men look like facing the Sale Sharks in the last four.

The former Ireland scrum-half will not let his squad get too far ahead of themselves, they are too experienced in the second tier competition to do so.

Last Friday saw them tally up their fifth win on French soil – as Dean Richards’ Top 16 outfit were edged 26-21, with Connacht – shorn of both Matt Mostyn and Matt Lacey due to late injuries – coming back from an 18-3 deficit.

Another performance like that – and a fit Paul Warwick – who has notched 82 points so far in the competition – will see Grenoble certainly up against it in Galway.

“It’s over two legs everyone knows it’s just half time. Grenoble could come out and be very strong or the opposite. We are not sure how they’ll perform. They certainly have the ability,” said Bradley, mindful of the fickleness of the performances of French sides on-the-road.

Route to the Quarter final:
Connacht: First round: L11-25 Narbonne (away), W40-21 Narbonne (home)
Second round: W56-3 Montpellier (home), L14-19 Montpellier (away)
Quarter final: W26-21 Grenoble (away)


(15) Matt Mostyn
(14) Darren Yapp
(13) Paul Warwick
(12) James Downey
(11) Ted Robinson
(10) Eric Elwood
(9) Chris Keane
(1) Ray Hogan
(2) Bernard Jackman
(3) Peter Bracken
(4) Christian Short
(5) Andrew Farley (Capt)
(6) Michael Swift
(7) Matt Lacey
(8) John Muldoon


(16) John Fogarty
(17) Adrian Clarke
(18) Pieter Myburgh
(19) John O’Sullivan
(20) Tom Tierney
(21) David Slemen
(22) Conor McPhillips

Referee: Hugh Watkins (Wales)

Sunday, January 16:
Heineken Cup, Pool 6:
Cardiff Blues v Ulster, Arms Park, 3.00pm

Ulster coach Mark McCall has conceded that Heineken Cup quarter final qualification looks beyond the province, despite their heroic 14-12 win over Gloucester at Ravenhill last Friday.

McCall’s side sit third in Pool 6 on 12 points, and can only finish on 17 points, and trouble Gloucester for second spot, if they pick up a bonus point win at the Arm’s Park on Sunday, and the English side lose to leader Stade Francais at home.

Even then, a last eight slot is the stuff of pipe dreams with Castres, Wasps and Northampton in pole position for the two best runners-up slots.

With that in mind, McCall has made six changes to his side for the trip to the bottom-placed Welsh. The struggling Blues are without a win, and Wales fullback Rhys Williams, due to a shin injury.

Tom Shanklin will deputise as captain, with Martyn Williams out due to neck and shoulder problems.

McCall, who faces into two games in five days with leaders the Ospreys entertaining Ulster in the Celtic League next Friday, commented: “I don’t think we’re going to make the quarter finals. Last weekend’s results certainly didn’t go for us.

“But Sunday is important for us and we want to win the game and keep our momentum going.”

Hopes of a third straight win – following the 18-10 success over Stade, and last weekend’s defeat of Gloucester – will again hinge on fly-half David Humphreys, who scored all of Ulster’s points in their 21-16 win over Cardiff in October. The 31-year-old has bagged 61 of Ulster’s 76 points in the competition so far.

Results so far:
Ulster: Round 1: W21-16 Cardiff Blues (home), Round 2: L55-13 Gloucester (away), Round 3: L30-10 Stade Francais (away), Round 4: W18-10 Stade Francais (home), Round 5: W14-12 Gloucester (home)


(15) Paddy Wallace
(14) Tommy Bowe
(13) Paul Steinmetz
(12) Kevin Maggs
(11) Andrew Maxwell
(10) David Humphreys
(9) Kieran Campbell
(1) Ronan McCormack
(2) Paul Shields
(3) Simon Best
(4) Rowan Frost
(5) Matt McCullough
(6) Neil Best
(7) Andy Ward (Capt)
(8) Roger Wilson


(16) Rory Best
(17) Rod Moore
(18) Matt Mustchin
(19) Campbell Feather
(20) Reece Spee
(21) Adam Larkin
(22) Bryn Cunningham

Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)