Paul O’Connell, David Wallace, Denis Leamy and Jerry Flannery have all been included in Munster’s 27-man squad for Friday’s Heineken Cup Pool 1 encounter with Perpignan (Thomond Park, kick-off 8pm).
The Munster squad trained this morning at the match venue and the starting line-up and replacements will be announced in the afternoon on Thursday.
Team captain Paul O’Connell was a late cry off from the Munster side that played Ospreys last weekend, while Denis Leamy, David Wallace and Jerry Flannery have all recovered from knocks picked up during the recent November internationals.
The squad also includes Darragh Hurley who returns from injury and although he only played a small part in training, Marcus Horan was togged out and running with the squad.
While Munster are all too well aware of the strengths of the Perpignan challenge, O’Connell insists their focus must be on their own performance.
Speaking today, the Limerick man said: “Our form is probably a bit of a concern. We’d rather be playing great rugby, rather be flying along in the Magners League. I suppose we’ve struggled a little bit. We’ve had injuries.
“I suppose that was our big strength last year in that it didn’t matter who pulled on the jersey we performed. And that’s something we need to look at and something we need to get right.
“I don’t think the lads underestimate this game or the task they face,” O’Connell admitted, but he reckoned they would take encouragement from their last outing at Thomond Park.
“The Ulster game for us was a great game to get going with back home. Against Ulster we were flying high that day.
“So for us it’s a case of the same for this weekend. Perpignan are very strong side. French champions last year so a great game for us to get back on the horse again.”
MUNSTER Squad (v Perpignan) – Backs (11): Peter Stringer, Tomas O’Leary, Ronan O’Gara, Paul Warwick, Lifeimi Mafi, Jean de Villiers, Keith Earls, Ian Dowling, Doug Howlett, Denis Hurley, Felix Jones.
Forwards (16): Wian du Preez, Darragh Hurley, Tony Buckley, John Hayes, Denis Fogarty, Damien Varley, Jerry Flannery, Donncha O’Callaghan, Donnacha Ryan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Mick O’Driscoll, Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy, James Coughlan.