Munster Rugby have confirmed the list of 26 players that will be travelling with the province to Chicago for their pre-season friendly against the US Eagles on Sunday week, which will see the teams compete for the Setanta Challenge Cup.
Flown by American Airlines, the Munster travelling party will touch down in Chicago next Wednesday ahead of their high-profile clash with the World Cup-bound Eagles. The August 26 game will kick-off at 2pm local time at Toyota Park and Setanta Sports Ireland will have live coverage of the fixture.
With the World Cup taking away many of Munster’s leading talents, a number of young players, including Ciaran O’Boyle, Gerry Hurley and Denis Hurley, will get the chance to impress coach Declan Kidney ahead of the new season. New signings Niall Ronan, Kieran Lewis, Paul Warwick and Rua Tipoki have also been included in the tour squad.
Sunday week’s encounter will act as the first of Munster’s three match pre-season programme – they also have home dates against Saracens and Viadana – while the game will serve as the final outing for the Americans before the World Cup.
Looking forward to the trip, Munster coach Kidney said: “Everyone’s aware of the importance of pre-season work and the matches serve as a significant part of that preparation. It is a privilege to be able to include an international side in our pre-season schedule and even more so when we are playing them in their own back yard just before they head off for the World Cup.
“It’s a marvellous opportunity for us, and particularly for the younger members of the squad, to get this type of exposure against an international outfit.”
The Munster management and players will have a busy itinerary Stateside, beginning with an open training session on Thursday morning at a venue to be confirmed, followed by a coaching session with young children from the area and player interviews. Later that evening, the Munster travelling party will attend an Irish Consulate reception at the Union League hosted by the Consul General of Ireland Sean Farrell.
On Friday morning, there will be a closed training session before Anthony Foley and Kidney attend a joint Munster/USA team press conference at the Gage restaurant. In the evening, both the Munster and Eagles squads will be spectators at a baseball match between the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox at US Cellular Field.
On Saturday morning, there will be usual Captain’s run a a venue yet to be confirmed and in the afternoon selected players and management will take themselves to Fado’s Irish pub in downtown Chicago for an autograph session organised by Setanta Sports.
The game itself on Sunday has a scheduled 2.10pm kick-off. It will be preceded by the Chicago Presidents XV v Boston Irish Wolfhounds match (12.15pm), and afterwards both sides will attend a Heineken World Cup send-off reception at the stadium. The Munster management and players will fly back into Shannon the following Tuesday.
MUNSTER Squad (v US Eagles): Federico Pucciariello, Tony Buckley, Darragh Hurley, Anthony Foley, John O’Sullivan, Donnacha Ryan, Mick O’Driscoll, Eugene McGovern, Denis Fogarty, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan, Mark Melbourne, Anthony Horgan, John Kelly, Tomas O’Leary, Ciaran O’Boyle, Denis Hurley, Jeremy Manning, Mossie Lawler, Ian Dowling, Barry Murphy, Kieran Lewis, Lifeimi Mafi, Paul Warwick, Rua Tipoki, Gerry Hurley.