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Munster Opt For Leamy In Midfield

Munster Opt For Leamy In Midfield

Munster coach Declan Kidney has sprung another positional surprise by opting to field Ireland flanker Denis Leamy as a centre for today’s Celtic league clash with the Ospreys.

Denis Leamy on the charge against Border Reivers

Munster coach Declan Kidney has sprung another positional surprise by opting to field Ireland flanker Denis Leamy as a centre for today’s Celtic League clash with the Ospreys.

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CELTIC LEAGUE: Saturday, September 10

Munster v The Ospreys, Musgrave Park, 6.00pm (live Setanta Sports)

Leamy will partner South African Trevor Halstead in midfield for the province as they bid to avenge last season’s champions for pipping them to the League title. Kidney, who used another flanker David Wallace as a makeshift right winger against Border Reivers last weekend, seems to be testing his squad’s capabilities.

“Now is the time to find out what options are available to us – seeing what players are capable of, and match situations are really the only way to gauge that.”

Referring to the Leamy switch, Kidney added: “Last year in a three-month period at the end of the season, Denis only started one game for us. Like David (Wallace) last week, I think it’s more beneficial to have Denis playing rather than sitting on the bench.”

Leamy, unstinting in his desire to play for Munster, whatever the position, said: “I’d play anywhere for Munster. I have played in the backs at underage so I’m familiar enough with it – and I’ve been training there all week so I’m happy to give it a go. Looking forward to it really.”

Leamy was man-of-the-match as a flanker against the Borders last week.

Kidney has brought Ireland internationals Frank Sheahan, Alan Quinlan and Anthony Horgan back into the side.

Sheahan and Quinlan come in for hooker Jerry Flannery and flanker Stephen Keogh, who both played the last three games. Horgan, who missed the Borders game with an Achilles injury, returns for his first game since Ireland’s June tour to Japan.

Meanwhile, the Ospreys’ line-up is also shrouded in secrecy. The Welsh region failed to impress when seeing off Leinster 22-20 last weekend with a last gasp Matthew Jones penalty. Lyn Jones has named an initial 23-man squad for the trip to Cork.

Coach Jones, who may include midweek Lions lock Brent Cockbain, is playing down his side’s chances of success in today’s tie. “Munster at Musgrave Park is one of the toughest fixtures in the calendar. To go there and get a win is quite a task as they are a well drilled side with a strong coach in Declan Kidney,” surmised Jones.

“They are strong across the park and it will be a huge challenge to go there with our young Ospreys side.”

Munster have won six on the trot in all competitions following the Borders’ win. The province, who finished second in the League to the Ospreys last season, have won the last three matches they have played against Jones’ men – a 13-9 League win in Cork last December was sandwiched by a double in last season’s Heineken Cup pool stages.

MUNSTER: Shaun Payne; John Kelly, Trevor Halstead, Denis Leamy, Anthony Horgan; Paul Burke, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Frank Sheahan, Federico Pucciariello, Trevor Hogan, Mick O’Driscoll, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Anthony Foley (Capt).

Replacements: Frank Roche, Jerry Flannery, John O’Sullivan, Stephen Keogh, Frank Murphy, Jeremy Manning, Rob Henderson.

OSPREYS Squad: Backs: Stefan Terblanche, Richard Mustoe, Sonny Parker, Leigh Davies, Johnny Vaughton, David Bishop, Shaun Connor, Jason Spice, Matthew Jones, Richard Rees.

Forwards: Duncan Jones, Barry Williams (Capt), Adam Jones, Paul James, Huw Bennett, Andrew Millward, Lyndon Bateman, Ian Evans, Brent Cockbain, Alan Wyn-Jones, Lee Beach, Steve Tandy, Andrew Lloyd.

Referee: David Changleng (Scotland)