A morale-boosting win will be very much on Munster minds on Saturday night as Declan Kidney’s men seek to beat Edinburgh for the sixth time in seven league meetings since November 2004, teeing themselves up nicely for next weekend’s Heineken Cup opener against Wasps.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, November 3
MUNSTER v EDINBURGH, Musgrave Park, 7.30pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland)
Team News: Scrum half Peter Stringer will lead a Munster side that includes Ronan O’Gara at out-half for Saturday’s Magners League meeting with Edinburgh.
Stringer will skipper his province in the absence of regular captain Paul O’Connell and benched former skipper Anthony Foley and ahead of vice-captain O’Gara.
Also included in the Munster starting line-up is full-back Denis Hurley who returns from an ankle injury picked up in the opening game of the season against the US Eagles in Chicago.
More good news for coach Declan Kidney was provided on Wednesday night when an IRFU Disciplinary committee saw no need to impose any sanction on Frankie Sheahan who had been cited for an incident in last week’s game against Glasgow Warriors. Sheahan is named on a bench that sees a vacancy left as Kidney decides which back row player to nominate for the number 19 jersey.
Besides the O’Gara for Paul Warwick and Hurley for Shaun Payne changes, the other back-line changes from the side that started the 11-11 draw with Glasgow see Kieran Lewis return at outside centre with Rua Tipoki named on the bench.
In the pack, Federico Pucciariello replaces Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery comes in for Sheahan and Denis Leamy, who came on as a second half replacement last week, retains the number 8 jersey.
Meanwhile, Allan Jacobsen has been handed his first start of the Magners League season as he reclaims the number one jersey for Edinburgh’s trip to Cork, after successfully overcoming a serious calf injury.
The 29-year-old prop’s World Cup adventure came to a premature end when he tore his calf muscle against Portugal in Scotland’s opening match of the tournament in September. He will feature on Saturday in an all-Scotland front row, alongside hooker Ross Ford and prop Gavin Kerr.
Following his Edinburgh debut at Connacht last Friday, rookie out-half David Blair has been given another chance to shine as Edinburgh’s chief playmaker.
Scotland prop Craig Smith is ruled out with a calf problem and Argentina international front rower Augusto Allori provides cover on the bench. Versatile back rower/winger Roland Reid is absent from club duties as the Scotland international is getting married in South Africa, with Fergus Pringle moving to the bench.
MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Brian Carney, Kieran Lewis, Lifeimi Mafi, Ian Dowling; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer (capt); Federico Pucciariello, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy.
Replacements: Tony Buckley, Frankie Sheahan, Anthony Foley, AN Other, Tomas O’Leary, Paul Warwick, Rua Tipoki.
EDINBURGH: Hugo Southwell; Andrew Turnbull, Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca, Simon Webster; David Blair, Mike Blair; Gavin Kerr, Ross Ford, Craig Smith, Craig Hamilton, Ben Gissing, Allister Hogg (capt), Ross Rennie, Simon Cross.
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Augusto Allori, Matt Mustchin, Fergus Pringle, Ben Meyer, Phil Godman, John Houston.
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Coach Speak: Declan Kidney (Munster) – “Peter has a few games under his belt while this is Ronan’s first game back. He (Stringer) is one of our natural leaders so in the circumstances the choice (of captain) was fairly straightforward really.
Andy Robinson (Edinburgh) – “As I’ve said before, there is lots of competition for places in the squad. Chunk (Allan Jacobsen) worked really hard to get himself tremendously fit for the World Cup before he picked that calf injury up.
“I’ve been told he is the best shape of his life which is tremendous and he hasn’t let that go. After the disappointment, it could have been easy for him to suddenly let that slip, but he has worked really hard.
“Craig Smith is unfortunately out with a sore calf, so to have someone of the calibre of Chunk to come in was really pleasing for the squad.
Top Scorers: 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Munster: Paul Warwick 50; Edinburgh: Phil Godman 21; Tries: Munster: Paul Warwick 2; Edinburgh: Andrew Turnbull 3.
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 17 Edinburgh 28, 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 26 Edinburgh 15, Thomond Park
October 13, 2006: Munster 10 Edinburgh 21, Thomond Park
May 4, 2007: Edinburgh 9 Munster 35, Murrayfield
– Munster are winless in the Magners League since their 26-16 victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on September 28. The Munstermen have not lost to Scottish opponents in their last four matches since Edinburgh won at Thomond Park on October 13, 2006
– Edinburgh’s only win in their last nine Magners League matches since April was a 24-10 success at home to Ulster on September 28, whilst you have to go back to their last visit to Munster – on October 13, 2006 – to find their last away win
– Edinburgh have won just one of their last seven matches against Munster in all competitions
MUNSTER MATCH REPORTS:
October 26: Glasgow Warriors 11 Munster 11
October 14: Ospreys 16 Munster 3
October 5: Munster 17 Cardiff Blues 19
September 28: Newport Gwent Dragons 16 Munster 26
September 22: Munster 26 Llanelli Scarlets 16