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Munster Confirm Starting Line-Up

Munster Confirm Starting Line-Up

With a busy week that includes British & Irish Cup and Six Nations action, Munster have been forced to ring the changes for Sunday’s Magners League encounter with Aironi Rugby at Stadio Zaffanella (kick-off 2pm local time/1pm Irish time).

Head coach Tony McGahan has made seven changes to the starting line-up – three of them positional. A strong-looking replacements bench also sees the return from injury of the 208-times capped Alan Quinlan.

Quinlan dislocated his elbow in the game against Connacht at the end of December and is back for bench duty, alongside the experienced Denis Fogarty, Marcus Horan and Doug Howlett.

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Denis Leamy is busy with the Ireland squad, so the pack shows just one change in personnel with Ian Nagle coming into the second row to partner Mick O’Driscoll and Donnacha Ryan selected at blindside flanker.

The half-back pairing from the Edinburgh game of Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer will also be in Edinburgh, so Paul Warwick switches from centre to out-half where he lines out alongside Duncan Williams.

Sam Tuitupou resumes at inside centre and Denis Hurley switches to the right wing berth vacated by Howlett to facilitate the introduction of former Ireland Under-20 winger Simon Zebo.

Speaking ahead of the game, Hurley said: “I don’t really think this is a case of making amends (for our last trip to Italy), not at all.

“After the Treviso loss, we knew we had to bounce back and we did against Edinburgh in what was a much improved display.

“Now it’s a case of maintaining that momentum. We won’t be looking at league positions because it’s a question of how we perform on the day.

“Every point counts in this competition and even more so now. It’s very much a case of getting our own performance right and seeing where that takes us.”

MUNSTER (v Aironi Rugby): Johne Murphy; Denis Hurley, Lifeimi Mafi, Sam Tuitupou, Simon Zebo; Paul Warwick, Duncan Williams; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, Tony Buckley, Ian Nagle, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Denis Fogarty, Marcus Horan, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Alan Quinlan, Conor Murray, Declan Cusack, Doug Howlett.