New Zealanders Jeremy Manning, Doug Howlett and Lifeimi Mafi have been included in the Munster starting line-up for the champions’ Magners League opener against Glasgow Warriors at Firhill Arena on Friday (kick-off 8pm).
Jeremy Manning, Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi and Tony Buckley were in the squad for the pre-season friendly last weekend against Leicester Tigers but were late withdrawals for a game Munster lost narrowly in injury-time.
The try of the game at Welford Road was scored by Felix Jones and he retains the full back jersey, while Denis Hurley, who touched down twice against Leicester, also retains his place on the left wing with young Danny Barnes making way for Howlett on the opposite flank.
Mick O’Driscoll, who captained Munster on eight occasions last term on their way to the title, will once again lead the province into battle.
Munster team manager Shaun Payne said: “Glasgow is a team that we did well against last season but if you look back over the last few seasons we seemed to struggle against them and they seem to raise their game for us.
“It’s a really tough opener for us – it alway seems to be an uncomfortable fixture for us.
“What has been a real positive for us (over the pre-season) is the young players coming through from the Academy – the likes of Ian Nagle and Danny Barnes.
“It is vitally important that we have players coming through from the Academy.”
Payne confirmed that Munster’s six players from the summer’s Lions tour – Paul O’Connell, Keith Earls, Ronan O’Gara, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan and David Wallace – will ‘only be available for Magners League round four, as per agreement with the national management.’
MUNSTER (v Glasgow Warriors): Felix Jones; Doug Howlett, Tom Gleeson, Lifeimi Mafi, Denis Hurley; Jeremy Manning, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Julien Brugnaut, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan, Toby Morland, Scott Deasy, Barry Murphy.