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Munster’s Young Guns Given Chance To Impress

Munster’s Young Guns Given Chance To Impress

With none of their Ireland internationals or members of the Churchill Cup-winning Ireland ‘A’ squad available for selection, there is a decidedly youthful look to the Munster side selected for Friday’s pre-season clash with Sale Sharks (Musgrave Park, kick-off 7pm).

Nine of the starting line-up will wear the Munster jersey for the first time although three of those – right winger Danny Riordan, scrum half Toby Morland and hooker Damien Varley – are experienced campaigners.

Riordan made his mark with Connacht in recent years, Morland featured for Super 14 finalists Waikato Chiefs and Varley gained top level experience with London Wasps.

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Paul Warwick will captain a Munster side that includes Academy and Sub Academy players and two former Academy members in Billy Holland and Tom Gleeson, who this season have been promoted to full contracts.

Two other Munster Academy products now on development contracts, Dave Ryan and Tommy O’Donnell, will also feature in the first of the province’s pre-season games.

After a week’s training in the sun in Portugal, Munster coach Tony McGahan is confident that his proteges will give a good account of themselves at Musgrave Park.

“Yes, it is by and large a young squad, but there are seven fully-contracted players in the starting line-up too,” he said.

“The internationals and Churchill Cup players are not available to us, while Doug (Howlett) and Lifeimi (Mafi) are carrying littles niggles. Nothing serious.

“Our pre-season has been disrupted because of the demands on our internationals, but having the entire squad together in Browns In Vilamoura has been beneficial and allowed us to get back to team drills and our game plan.

“The players worked hard this past week. The facilities in Browns were first class and I’m more than happy with the work we were able to do there,” he added.

“If I were to make a comparison to where we are now and where we were this time last year, I would say we are ahead at this stage in our preparations.”

MUNSTER (v Sale Sharks): Scott Deasy; Danny Riordan, Tom Gleeson, Paul Warwick (capt), Danny Barnes; Jeremy Manning, Toby Morland; Dave Ryan, Damien Varley, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Ian Nagle, Nick Williams, Tommy O’Donnell, Kieran Essex.

Replacements (from): Mike Sherry, Julien Brugnaut, Dave O’Callaghan, Eoghan Grace, Conor Murray, Andrew Burke, Finbar Ahern, Dave Kilcoyne, Brian Hayes, Ronan O’Mahony, Declan Cusack.