Munster coach Declan Kidney has selected scrum half Peter Stringer as the province’s captain for their Magners League encounter with Edinburgh on Saturday (Musgrave Park, kick-off 7.30pm). Stringer will be partnered at half-back by Ronan O’Gara, who returns belatedly from World Cup duty due to a knee injury.
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.
Explaining the decision, coach Kidney said: “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.”
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 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.
Kidney added: “We lost this fixture last year and it had a significant bearing on where we finished in the league. We’re still disappointed over losing here in Cork last time (against Cardiff) and we really need to get our home record back in order. Also, this is a game in hand we have on the Welsh sides and we have the opportunity to close the gap on them.”
MUNSTER (v Edinburgh): 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.