Munster ‘A’ head coach Peter Malone has made two changes for Friday’s eagerly-awaited British and Irish Cup final against Jersey Reds at Irish Independent Park (kick-off 7.30pm).
The first change is seen in the back row with Munster Academy flanker Gavin Coombes starting on the blindside for the first time, while fellow Academy member Stephen Fitzgerald, who also returns to the starting XV, taking charge at full-back.
An injury to his brother Bill (fractured fibula) sees David Johnston revert to the number 10 jersey with the versatile play-maker now having started for Munster ‘A’ at out-half, centre and full-back this season. Johnston and Academy prop Brian Scott are the only two players to start every game of the current campaign.
Robin Copeland, who will start at number 8, told MunsterRugby.ie: “Training has been good, it’s great to have both squads (the seniors and the ‘A’ side) fighting for something at the weekend. There’s been that little bit of extra bite.
“To be able to train against European semi-finalists has been nice, it’s great preparation and everyone is looking forward to the game. It’s going to be a really tough test (against Jersey) but training has been going well and wee’re looking forward to it.
“I think we just took our chances (in the semi-final against Ealing) and we were really clinical. Our defence was phenomenal, we really fought for every inch. I think it’s going to be much of the same this weekend against a big team.
“We’ve got quality players throughout the ranks and I think that’s probably been the strength of Munster this year is how durable we are. We train very hard during the week and I think that gives us that extra bit of durability and edge at the week.
“That’s a massive factor in everything at Munster this year. We’re able to not only put out strong teams at the weekend, we’re training with strong teams during the week. Our senior team is training against a really good ‘A’ side every week.”
Commenting on first-time finalists Jersey, he added: “They’re an absolutely massive side, a lot of big units. They’re very mobile as well, they’ll be a very dangerous outfit. We just stick to what we’re good at – work hard in defence and try and take our opportunities in attack when they come and that’s all we can do, look after ourselves.”
Tickets can be purchased online here, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Irish Independent Park and Thomond Park, or at the ground on match night. Prices: €;10 (adults), €;5 (juniors) and €;20 (family packs – two adults & two juniors).
MUNSTER ‘A’ (v Jersey Reds): Stephen Fitzgerald; Dan Goggin, Sam Arnold, Cian Bohane (capt), Alex Wootton; David Johnston, John Poland; Peter McCabe, Kevin O’Byrne, Brian Scott, John Madigan, Darren O’Shea, Gavin Coombes, Conor Oliver, Robin Copeland.
Replacements: Duncan Casey, Liam O’Connor, Rory Burke, Mark Chisholm, Sean O’Connor, Abrie Griesel, Greg O’Shea.