Paul O’Connell returns from injury to captain Munster as they attempt to win outside of Ireland for the first time since February. Tonight’s clash with Edinburgh also marks Munster’s 100th league game – they are the first side to achieve such a feat.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, May 4
EDINBURGH (8th) v MUNSTER (7th), Murrayfield, 7.30pm (deferred coverage Setanta Sports Ireland)
Team News: Paul O’Connell will lead Munster at Murrayfield, while in another notable change, coach Declan Kidney has plumped for Brian Carney at full-back.
O’Connell last saw action for Munster in their final Heineken Cup pool game against Leicester Tigers in January. He then went on international duty with Ireland but a fractured thumb saw his sidelined for the final game of the Six Nations and Munster’s Heineken Cup quarter-final against Llanelli.
Carney, who has been called up to the Ireland summer tour squad, withdrew from last weekend’s game against the Dragons just before half-time with a slight hamstring twinge but has recovered and this time around, he will wear the number 15 jersey for his fourth appearance for the province.
Anthony Foley was forced to withdraw from the side last Saturday shortly before kick-off with a stomach ailment, but he is back in the side as is Anthony Horgan and Argentina-bound Tony Buckley.
Meanwhile, hosts Edinburgh have been bolstered by the return of Scottish international Scott Murray to their side. The Lions-capped lock will captain Edinburgh for their final home match of the season.
Murray has recovered from a wrist injury and replaces Fergus Pringle in Lynn Howell’s side. Flanker Alan MacDonald also returns to the starting line-up in place of Dave Callam who is injured. Ben Cairns switches to outside centre for Marcus Di Rollo who has a pelvic injury, meaning Lucio Lopez Fleming starts at full-back.
Edinburgh: Lucio Lopez Fleming; Rob Dewey, Ben Cairns, Matt Dey, Simon Webster; Phil Godman, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Jacobsen, Andrew Kelly, Geoff Cross, Alasdair Strokosch, Scott Murray (capt), Simon Taylor, Alan MacDonald, Allister Hogg.
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Alasdair Dickinson, Fergus Pringle, Ross Rennie, Simon Cross, John Senio, Duncan Hodge.
Munster: Brian Carney; Anthony Horgan, Barry Murphy, Lifeimi Mafi, Ian Dowling; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Federico Pucciariello, Frankie Sheahan, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell (capt), Alan Quinlan, John O’Sullivan, Anthony Foley.
Replacements: Denis Fogarty, Frankie Roche, David Wallace, Denis Leamy, Brian O’Meara, Jeremy Manning, Mossie Lawlor.
Referee: Phil Fear (Wales)
Touch Judges: Graham Knox, Alan Forrest (both Scotland)
Team League Statistics: Edinburgh: Top Points Scorer – Chris Paterson 113 (2 tries, 14 conversions and 25 penalty goals); Top Try Scorer – Simon Webster 4
Munster: Top Points Scorer – Jeremy Manning 72 (6 conversions, 18 penalty goals and 2 drop goals); Top Try Scorers – David Wallace, Lifeimi Mafi, Tomas O’Leary, Marcus Horan, Brian Carney 2 each
Previous League Meetings:
August 17, 2001 – Edinburgh 22 Munster 25, Myreside
September 13, 2002 – Edinburgh 21 Munster 28, Meadowbank
November 7, 2003 – Edinburgh 20 Munster 9, Meadowbank
April 16, 2004 – Munster 28 Edinburgh 17, Musgrave Park
November 26, 2004 – Edinburgh 0 Munster 11, Murrayfield
April 16, 2005 – Munster 30 Edinburgh 20, Thomond Park
January 7, 2006 – Edinburgh 17 Munster 18, Murrayfield
April 15, 2006 – Munster 36 Edinburgh 15, Thomond Park
October 13, 2006 – Munster 10 Edinburgh 21, Thomond Park
– Edinburgh’s only win in their last six Magners League outings was a 30-20 victory over the Dragons at Murrayfield on April 6. The Scottish capital side have won their last four encounters against Irish opponents at Murrayfield, since Leinster won there 31-8 in May of last year
– Munster wil become the first side to participate in 100 league matches tonight. Their record so far being: won 63, drawn 1 and lost 35
– Munster have won back-to-back matches in the Magners League against the Scarlets and the Dragons at Musgrave Park, but they have not won outside of Ireland since a 36-0 success at Border Reivers on February 16
– Edinburgh are going for a league double over Munster for the first time since the 2003/04 season, following their 21-10 win at Thomond Park in October