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Munster To Field Much-Changed Team

Munster To Field Much-Changed Team

The Munster team for Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 game against Edinburgh at Murrayfield (kick-off 7.30pm) shows ten changes to the one that ran out against the Cardiff Blues last weekend.

Two of those changes are positional, Johne Murphy switching to the right wing with Scott Deasy now at full-back and Tommy O’Donnell changing back row flanks to accommodate the inclusion of Niall Ronan at openside.

The only forced change is at number 8 where a neck injury rules James Coughlan out and the 20-year-old Paddy Butler comes in to make his second league start.

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Otherwise it is simply a case of head coach Tony McGahan using his resources prudently, with Doug Howlett given a deserved rest after involvement in the pre-season games and four RaboDirect PRO12 matches on the bounce.

The same applies to Billy Holland, although he will travel with the squad as cover while in the other cases it is a question of rotation.

Tom Gleeson, Peter Stringer, Denis Fogarty, John Hayes and Dave Foley all featured off the bench last weekend and this time around they have gained starting spots.

Young second row Foley makes just his second start of the season. His first against the Scarlets at Musgrave Park, saw him deliver an impressive performance particularly in the air, and tomorrow he packs down with one of the league’s great lineout exponents, Mick O’Driscoll, who will be winning his 192nd Munster cap.

It is an experience the 23-year-old Foley is looking forward to. “Micko is obviously a massive influence. Not just for me, for all around him,” he said.

“You can learn a huge amount from him. It is great at this stage of a fella’s career to be paired with him. He really is a huge figure for us.”

When he refers to us, you would to assume he is talking about his fellow 20-somethings. Of Munster’s matchday squad, ten players are 23 or under and they have been led to four consecutive wins by Peter O’Mahony (22), who this time around takes a breather on the bench.

Foley is equally enthusiastic about the Cork Constitution clubman, adding: “Pete is another player who exerts a huge influence. He’s done a great job coming in as captain.

“He’s only a year younger than me and he shows great leadership even to the older guys in the squad. I’ve played with Pete for the last two or three years so I know exactly what he’s about.

“I think he gets it and we get him. He’s a great motivator, a great believer. It is great for us to see a young fella our own age making such massive strides in his career.”

Commenting on Friday’s encounter with the Scottish side, Foley admitted: “Four wins from four is great. But we take each game as it comes. This is a new game and that’s all we’re focused on.

“Listening to Micko, the talk is all about heart and belief because Edinburgh are a strong side and especially strong at home.”

MUNSTER (v Edinburgh): Scott Deasy; Johne Murphy, Tom Gleeson, Lifeimi Mafi, Denis Hurley; Ian Keatley, Peter Stringer; Wian du Preez, Denis Fogarty, John Hayes, Dave Foley, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, Niall Ronan, Paddy Butler.

Replacements: Mike Sherry, John Ryan, Stephen Archer, Ian Nagle, Peter O’Mahony, Duncan Williams, Danny Barnes, Simon Zebo.