In selecting a 31-man panel for Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 derby encounter with Leinster, Munster head coach Tony McGahan has gone with almost the same extended squad that trained together ahead of last weekend’s win over Aironi.
The only exception is young lock/flanker David O’Callaghan who is ruled out of contention with a slight knee injury that will sideline him for a few weeks.
Other than that and the province’s long term injury concerns, the atmosphere in camp is positive according to skipper Paul O’Connell.
Speaking at the Heineken Cup launch in Dublin, he said: “There’s been a great buzz since we got back. Obviously there was disappointment with the World Cup.
“There was a massive opportunity we left behind us out there but I think that all the Munster lads that were involved with Ireland were really enthusiastic to get back and looking forward to playing. So there’s a really good buzz there now.”
Reflecting on the 18-6 home victory over Aironi, his first of the season, the Limerick man was fairly happy overall with the display.
“I liked the first half an hour when it was dry and I thought we were playing really well. We were holding onto the ball for long periods of time and I thought we created a lot of space.
“Unfortunately the rain came down later on, a few injuries, guys playing out of position but we dug in deep. It would have been nice to have scored a few tries but for lads who didn’t play a whole lot together I thought we did well.”
Asked about Friday’s trip to the Aviva Stadium, O’Connell admitted: “It’s going to be a really tough game for us and it’ll really let us know where we are. We’re going to be tested in every way.
“I mean obviously our scrum, you know, Cian (Healy) and Mike Ross had a great World Cup. Our scrum is going to be tested. Our lineout. Fitness, physicality. Leinster play a good pressure game as well.
“There’s going to be a massive crowd there. Big heaving atmosphere. So for us it’s going to be a great test and it will really let us know where we are and what we have to work on going into the two big weeks involving Northampton Saints and Castres.”
Tony McGahan will announce the Munster team and replacements to face Leinster on Thursday afternoon, shortly before the squad departs for Dublin.
MUNSTER Squad (v Leinster) – Backs (14): Tomas O’Leary, Conor Murray, Duncan Williams, Peter Stringer, Ian Keatley, Ronan O’Gara, Keith Earls, Danny Barnes, Lifeimi Mafi, Will Chambers, Doug Howlett, Denis Hurley, Johne Murphy, Scott Deasy.
Forwards (17): Marcus Horan, Wian du Preez, John Hayes, BJ Botha, Stephen Archer, Damien Varley, Denis Fogarty, Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Billy Holland, Denis Leamy, Niall Ronan, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan.