Munster coach Declan Kidney has announced a 27-man squad for Saturday’s Magners League trip to the RDS to face table toppers Leinster (kick-off 6.30pm).
Kidney’s bulked-up squad includes all 22 players who were on matchday duty for last Saturday’s Heineken Cup quarter-final win over Gloucester.
The five additional players are Shaun Payne, Brian Carney, Marcus Horan, Donnacha Ryan and Niall Ronan.
The good news for Munster is that prop Horan could force his way back into the team to take on Leinster, and David Wallace is also on the road to full fitness after taking a heavy knock to his face during the latter stages at Kingsholm.
Horan missed the Gloucester game, pulling out of the side less than an hour before kick-off due to a back spasm. Tony Buckley took over at loosehead prop.
Both Horan and Wallace were at the UL Bowl on Tuesday morning for squad training and while neither took a full part in the session, their injuries are, according to Declan Kidney, healing satisfactorally enough to allow them be considered for the weekend’s interprovincial clash.
“With Marcus and the nature of his knock, it can be difficult to say how things pan out and although he didn’t train today, he is improving and hopefully he will able to train Thursday,” the Munster coach explained.
“In David’s case, he took a heavy facial knock on Saturday, but he did some light training today and again like Marcus, we will know a bit more on Thursday and would expect both to be in the mix for selection.”
Munster are a full 11 points adrift of Leinster at the business end of the Magners League table, but if they can garner a win at the RDS and another in their re-fixed game away to Ulster on April 29, they could yet have a say in the destination of the league title.
Looking forward to Saturday’s renewal of rivalries with Leinster, Kidney said: “These local derbies have a life of their own, they really are great occasions. You’ll have two good sides playing in front of a full house at the RDS. It’s a marvellous advertisement for the Magners League.
“Leinster are 11 points clear, they’ve shown great consistency and deserve to be where they are. All that and in front of their home support? It’s going to take a huge effort, on our part, to get anything from this.
“But look, last week we played the Premiership leaders. This week it’s the Magners League leaders. Another challenge, great for everyone involved.”
MUNSTER Squad (v Leinster): Backs (12) – Shaun Payne, Denis Hurley, Doug Howlett, Kieran Lewis, Rua Tipoki, Lifeimi Mafi, Brian Carney, Ian Dowling, Paul Warwick, Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary, Peter Stringer.
Forwards (15) – John Hayes, Marcus Horan, Tony Buckley, Federico Pucciariello, Jerry Flannery, Frankie Sheahan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Donncha O’Callaghan, Donnacha Ryan, Mick O’Driscoll, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy, Anthony Foley, Niall Ronan.