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Murphy Has Midfield Role For Munster

Murphy Has Midfield Role For Munster

In the absence of the suspended Sam Tuitupou, Munster’s number 12 jersey will be worn by Johne Murphy for the sold-out Heineken Cup Pool 3 showdown with Toulon at Thomond Park on Saturday (kick-off 3.30pm).

Munster coach Tony McGahan has opted to make four personnel changes to the team that started last weekend’s 23-17 loss to London Irish in Reading.

Johne Murphy and Keith Earls form a new-look centre partnership, with Paul Warwick returning to the side at full-back.

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Murphy, who hails from Rathangan in County Kildare, played at outside centre in Munster’s first three Magners League games last month.

He reverted to the wing for the matches against Glasgow Warriors and Leinster and then slotted in at full-back for the Heineken Cup opener against London Irish.

“I don’t mind where they pick me, once they do,” admitted Murphy, who scored six tries in 18 Heineken Cup appearances for his previous club Leicester.

In the forwards, Mick O’Driscoll takes over from Donnacha Ryan in the second row, and Alan Quinlan and David Wallace resume in a back row unit led by stand-in captain Denis Leamy, who switches back to number 8.

Quinlan will win his 202nd Munster cap on Saturday afternoon, becoming the province’s most-capped player. The previous record holder was former captain Anthony Foley (201 caps).

Wallace, who made such an impression when introduced for the injured Niall Ronan against London Irish, will start at openside flanker.

In a further boost, the fit-again Jerry Flannery returns to a Munster matchday squad for the first time since last May’s Heineken Cup semi-final defeat to Biarritz Olympique.

Flannery, who has been nursing a calf injury, enjoyed a 40-minute run-out for Shannon in the All-Ireland League last weekend. He joins Marcus Horan and John Hayes on Munster’s replacements bench.

MUNSTER (v Toulon): Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Johne Murphy, Denis Hurley; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, Tony Buckley, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy (capt).

Replacements: Jerry Flannery, Marcus Horan, John Hayes, Donnacha Ryan, James Coughlan, Niall Ronan, Duncan Williams, Scott Deasy.