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Munster Unchanged For Semi-Final

Munster Unchanged For Semi-Final

The Munster team to start Sunday’s Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Biarritz Olympique in San Sebastian (kick-off 4.15pm local time/3.15pm Irish time) is unchanged from the one that saw off Northampton Saints at the quarter-final stage.

In fact, there is only one change in the 23-man matchday squad from the win over Northampton Saints, with Billy Holland missing out this time for a place on the bench as the Munster management opt for a 5-3 forwards/backs split on this occasion.

And if former Academy player Holland was the one asked to step up to the plate on April 10, it is another Academy product, Scott Deasy, who will answer the call in San Sebastian. He has been named on the bench alongside fellow backs Peter Stringer and Lifeimi Mafi.

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Wingers Doug Howlett and Ian Dowling showed no ill-effects after training at Musgrave Park on Wednesday and return to the starting line-up, having picked up hamstring and knee injuries respectively against Northampton.

In a further boost, Keith Earls, who has shaken off a groin injury, resumes his partnership with Jean de Villiers in midfield.

Speaking after the team announcement, Munster coach Tony McGahan said: “Doug and Ian came through Wednesday’s session well and we’ll see how they go later on in the Captain’s Run.

“Obviously we’re happy that both have managed to get themselves ready in time. It’s a tribute to their hard work and professionalism and also to the Munster medics and fitness staff that they are in the side.

“Players of their experience are crucial in games like this and this is a game that is going to require that and a lot more to win.”

MUNSTER (v Northampton Saints): Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Jean de Villiers, Ian Dowling; Ronan O’Gara (capt), Tomas O’Leary; Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Damien Varley, Julien Brugnaut, Tony Buckley, Nick Williams, Niall Ronan, Peter Stringer, Lifeimi Mafi, Scott Deasy.