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Munster Include de Villiers And Ronan

Munster Include de Villiers And Ronan

Munster coach Tony McGahan has named a side a along expected lines for Saturday’s Heineken Cup Pool 1 clash with Benetton Treviso at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo (kick-off 2.35pm local time/1.35pm Irish time).

The only real areas of issues probably centred around who would partner Keith Earls in the centre and the formation of the back row in the absence of the injured Denis Leamy.

In the backs, South African Jean de Villiers will continue in the number 12 jersey, hoping to have the sort of impact he had as a try-scoring replacement in the win over Perpignan last time out in Pool 1.

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Meanwhile, Niall Ronan will take over at openside flanker from David Wallace, who anchors the scrum, as part of a rejigged back row unit.

Lifeimi Mafi and James Coughlan, the other main contenders for those midfield and back row roles, have been named on a strong replacements bench which also includes Damien Varley, French prop Julien Brugnaut, Donnacha Ryan, Academy player Stephen Archer and experienced backs Peter Stringer and Ian Dowling.

Munster coach Tony McGahan accepted that preparation for the game has been disrupted somewhat by the weather, admitting: “It has been (disrupted) a little bit, but it is what it is and you really have to make sure that you deal with that.

“We’re lucky enough that we haven’t really been compromised with regards to being outdoors, but we have been compromised with regard to training on grass pitches. Last Wednesday was the first time we trained on a grass pitch in two weeks.

“So it was a welcome relief for us to get out on a pitch. But we’ve been able to focus on organisation, rest a bit more and not have such intense sessions because of the pitches.

“We’re very confident going into this game that we’ve got a lot of good work done.”

In terms of the game itself, McGahan believes a good start will be vital on Saturday afternoon.

“Yes, absolutely. If we don’t start well this weekend and let them dominate the scoreboard as they have in every other game, it’ll be a difficult task to claw them back,” he said.

“In the last game against Treviso (at Thomond Park), I thought we played very well in the first half, and the scoreboard didn’t reflect that.

“We had Marcus (Horan) who was in a bad way on there for the first 15 minutes, and we had about three or four scrums that were put back and Marcus ended up missing the tackle on the short side that led to the first try.

“I thought we put a lot of good work in during the first half and didn’t get the rewards that we were looking for, but we did at the back-end of the first half when we scored two tries and we ended up getting that payback in the last 15 minutes of the game when we scored three more tries.

“But, as I said, the most important thing for us is our start. To make sure we work ourselves into the game in the correct manner, in field position and intensity and our work-rate and give ourselves every opportunity to be successful.”

MUNSTER (v Benetton Treviso): Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Jean de Villiers, Denis Hurley; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Wian du Preez, Denis Fogarty, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, David Wallace.

Replacements: Damien Varley, Stephen Archer, Julien Brugnaut, Donnacha Ryan, James Coughlan, Peter Stringer, Lifeimi Mafi, Ian Dowling.