Despite the absence of twin totems Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan and five more who saw duty in the Stade Aime Giral last Sunday, Munster can still name a strong squad for the Magners League clash with Connacht at Thomond Park (kick-off 7.30pm) on St. Stephen’s Day.
Munster’s 27-man squad includes Ronan O’Gara and the try scorers from the impressive win over Perpignan last weekend – Denis Fogarty, Denis Hurley, Jean de Villiers and Doug Howlett.
Amongst the players being rested are team captain Paul O’Connell, his second row partner Donncha O’Callaghan, who is getting married to Jennifer Harte tomorrow (Wednesday), scrum half Tomas O’Leary and versatile back Keith Earls.
Munster team manager Shaun Payne said: “As agreed with national management, there’s a group of senior international players who are allowed to play only six matches out of eight.
“This is one of those earmarked as the ‘active rest week’. That leaves only two Magners League games that they are able to play in.
“Rog (Ronan O’Gara) hasn’t had the same workload as some of the others so he will be looking to keep going a little longer.
“He’s playing really well and I thought he was outstanding at the weekend. So we’ll keep him going for another few weeks as he needs the game time.”
Commenting on the province’s injury list, he added: “Marcus Horan is doing remarkably well and we’re very pleased with his progress. There’s every possibility he’ll be available for the next rounds of the (Heineken Cup), but we don’t want to push anything.
“He’s back in full training and we’ll see how he deals with that. He had a serious condition and we’re not going to push anything unduly. We’re hoping Marcus and Jerry Flannery will be okay for Treviso in a few weeks’ time.”
MUNSTER Squad (v Connacht) – Backs (12): Scott Deasy, Denis Hurley, Felix Jones, Doug Howlett, Ian Dowling, Tom Gleeson, Lifeimi Mafi, Jean de Villiers, Paul Warwick, Ronan O’Gara, Duncan Wlliams, Peter Stringer.
Forwards (15): Darragh Hurley, Wian du Preez, Julien Brugnaut, Denis Fogarty, Damien Varley, Mick Sherry, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Alan Quinlan, Billy Holland, Niall Ronan, Nick Williams, James Coughlan, Tommy O’Donnell.