Munster head coach Tony McGahan has made three changes in personnel to the team for Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 derby match against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 8pm).
In keeping the changes to a minimum, just of one of the alterations comes in the back-line where there is a straight swop – the more experienced Lifeimi Mafi has been preferred to Danny Barnes.
In the forwards it is as you were in the front row with hooker Damien Varley being joined by the South African pairing of Wian du Preez and BJ Botha.
In the second row, team captain Paul O’Connell has his regular partner Donncha O’Callaghan back alongside him. Donnacha Ryan, who started at lock in last weekend’s win over Aironi, is retained in the starting line-up but on the blindside flank.
Niall Ronan has been brought in at openside flanker at the expense of Peter O’Mahony, while Denis Leamy, another of the returning Rugby World Cup players, ousts James Coughlan for the number 8 jersey.
Speaking of the immediate challenge presented by Leinster, Tony McGahan said: “I don’t think there are many greater challenges in European rugby than playing the reigning Heineken Cup champions, the number one ranked side in a sell-out at the national stadium, a venue they’ve had wonderful success at.
“So what a perfect way to get back into the RaboDirect PRO12 but also for the upcoming Heineken Cup. It’s a perfect platform to certainly give us a great indication of where we are at present.”
MUNSTER (v Leinster): Johne Murphy; Doug Howlett, Will Chambers, Lifeimi Mafi, Keith Earls; Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy.
Replacements: Denis Fogarty, Marcus Horan, John Hayes, Peter O’Mahony, James Coughlan, Tomas O’Leary, Ian Keatley, Danny Barnes.