Back to winning ways in Europe last week against Benetton Treviso, Munster have ground to make up in the Magners League. They have won their last five meetings with Edinburgh, including the last three at Murrayfield, the venue for Friday’s televised clash.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, October 23
EDINBURGH (4th) v MUNSTER (6th), Murrayfield, 8pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland)
Team News: Opportunity knocks for Munster prop Darragh Hurley who has been named in the province’s starting line-up for the first time this season. Hurley and company take on Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday night.
Hurley’s last start for Munster was in the Magners League game against the Dragons at Rodney Parade last March and there was a subsequent appearance off the bench against Glasgow before injury put an end to his season.
The Cork Constitution clubman was on the bench for Munster’s Heineken Cup trip to Franklin’s Gardens and made a very favourable impression last Saturday at Thomond Park when he came on as 48th minute replacement for Tony Buckley.
Injuries to Buckley, Marcus Horan and Dave Ryan also provide an opportunity for Academy player Stephen Archer, who has been named on the bench for the Scottish test.
Archer also caught the eye last week in the Munster ‘A’ side’s win over Leinster at Clonmel RFC, while there is a return to the matchday squad for Felix Jones who has recovered from an ankle injury.
A hamstring strain rules Doug Howlett out so Ian Dowling, who touched down twice against Benetton Treviso, will start in the only change to the back-line from last weekend.
Up front, Frenchman Julien Bugnaut joins Hurley and Denis Fogarty in the front row and Alan Quinlan gets a well-earned break, with Niall Ronan operating from the blindside berth.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh coach Rob Moffat welcomes back prolific goal-kicker Chris Paterson into the hosts’ starting line-up for the visit of league champions Munster to Murrayfield.
Moffat has made three changes to the side which defeated Ulster in the Heineken Cup last Saturday. Paterson, who has contributed 61 points in four Magners League appearances this season, reclaims the number 15 jersey after missing last weekend’s European victory because of a viral infection.
Ben Cairns also returns to the backs division – linking up in a centre partnership with Nick De Luca – while John Houston moves across to the right wing.
In the pack, Scott Newlands replaces Allister Hogg at the base of the scrum.
EDINBURGH: Chris Paterson; John Houston, Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca, Tim Visser; Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt); Kyle Traynor, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Steve Turnbull, Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Scott Newlands.
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Allan Jacobsen, Craig Hamilton, Allister Hogg, Greig Laidlaw, Andrew Turnbull, Steve Jones.
MUNSTER: Paul Warwick; Ian Dowling, Lifeimi Mafi, Jean de Villiers, Keith Earls; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Darragh Hurley, Denis Fogarty, Julien Brugnaut, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Niall Ronan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Stephen Archer, Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Peter Stringer, Denis Hurley, Felix Jones.
Referee: Gwyn Morris (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Ian Heard, Graeme Marshall (both Scotland)
Television Match Official: Iain Ramage (Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Edinburgh to win: 6/5; Draw: 20/1; Munster to win: 4/6
Say What: Shaun Payne (Munster) – “We will be looking to move forward this weekend. We are a work in progress this season.
“We are improving each week and will be looking to improve on our performance against Treviso. Traditionally, we have done quite well in Edinburgh, although the games have tended to be very close.
“Looking at Edinburgh this season, they are a well-drilled, decent outfit. They have been playing well.
“It is a tough one on Friday night, a six day turnaround from our last game.
“The injuries to the props – Marcus Horan and Tony Buckley – provide an opportunity for others. Julien Brugnaut is an experienced prop and I thought Darragh (Hurley) did extremely well when he came on (against Treviso).
“And that’s always difficult. So now both player have an opportunity. Of course you don’t like to be without your frontline players, but we have the back up.”
Rob Moffat (Edinburgh) – “It’s another massive challenge for the team, but it’s one we are really looking forward to.
“Over the last few years, Munster have consistently performed well at the highest level. That is the benchmark for other teams to aspire towards and we are expecting another tough game.
“Steve Jones played well for us last week, but I felt bringing Chris (Paterson) back in was the right decision.
“Chris has been playing well for us this season. Everybody always goes on about his goal-kicking, but first and foremost he has been playing well – looking really sharp.
“As I’ve said before, this season’s challenge is a 36-man job and it is my responsibility to manage the squad properly.
“Ally (Hogg) has started the first seven games of the season and has contributed well. Scott (Newlands) came on last weekend and did well – very few, if any of our players will start every game this season.”
Top Scorers – 2009/10 Magners League: Edinburgh – Points: Chris Paterson 61; Tries: Tim Visser 3; Munster – Points: Jeremy Manning 30; Tries: Nick Williams 3
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, October 13, 2006 – Munster 10 Edinburgh 21, Thomond Park
Friday, May 4, 2007 – Edinburgh 9 Munster 35, Murrayfield
Saturday, November 3, 2007 – Munster 19 Edinburgh 16, Musgrave Park
Friday, February 15, 2008 – Edinburgh 7 Munster 11, Murrayfield
Friday, September 5, 2008 – Edinburgh 15 Munster 20, Murrayfield
Saturday, February 21, 2009 – Munster 28 Edinburgh 14, Musgrave Park
– Edinburgh ended a three-match losing run with their 17-13 home victory over Ulster in the Heineken Cup last Saturday
– The Scottish capital side’s only loss at Murrayfield in their last ten outings was a 21-19 defeat to Leinster in the Magners League on September 26
– Munster’s 30-0 reversal at the hands of Leinster in their most recent Magners League game ended their three-match winning run in the competition
– The defending Magners League champions have lost four of their last five away games in all competitions
– Munster have won the last five encounters between these two teams, while Edinburgh’s only win over Munster since April 2004 was a 21-10 triumph at Thomond Park in the league in October 2006