Munster and Ireland great Donncha O’Callaghan has accepted the Barbarians’ invitation to return to Thomond Park to face Tonga on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm). He joins the squad along with two current Munster players in props James Cronin and Brian Scott.
Also added to the Baa Baas group following Saturday’s 31-22 defeat against New Zealand are Leinster and Ireland flanker Jordi Murphy, former England and British & Irish Lions lock Geoff Parling, giant Australia winger Taqele Naiyaravoro and Castres Olympique flyer David Smith.
James Cronin and Brian Scott replace New Zealanders Atu Moli and Ben Franks. Moli has joined the All Blacks squad for their European tour, while Franks has returned to London Irish.
Donncha O’Callaghan returns from Worcester Warriors for a second spell with the Baa Baas after featuring in the win against England in 2014. The two Cork-born props will be making their debuts for the famous invitational side, who are back in Limerick for the first time since the 22-21 win over Ireland in the summer of 2015.
Ireland international Cronin said: “I was watching the (New Zealand) game on TV at the weekend and chatting with my buddies about it, and it’s a special thing. You get to wear your club socks and represent where you’re from, and it’s such a prestigious club. It’s an opportunity everyone wants.”
The debate over which socks Scott will wear has already started his family, with Presentation Brothers College, University College Cork, Dolphin and Youghal all having claims.
“I know what a great honour it is to play for the Barbarians and I’ve seen some unbelievable players over the years and I know what a privilege it is to wear the shirt. There are players coming in from all round the world, all great players, and it’s fantastic to be involved and to do it at Thomond Park,” he added.
The two wings, Smith and Naiyaravoro, add contrasting attacking options to the back-line head coach Robbie Deans has at his disposal. Naiyaravoro – nicknamed ‘Big T’ – is a 6ft 5in, 19-stone monster who has scored tries for the Barbarians against South Africa and Australia and touched down on both Test appearances for the Wallabies.
Smith, by contrast, is a 5ft 9in, 14-stone finisher whose ability to beat players with his footwork and offload to supporting runners have made him a Barbarians favourite.
Parling won 29 England caps and started all three Tests on the 2013 Lions tour, making 194 top flight appearances for Newcastle Falcons, Leicester Tigers and Exeter Chiefs before joining Munakata Sanix Blues in Japan. Murphy, meanwhile, has 17 Ireland caps, the last of which was won in the historic victory over the All Blacks in Chicago last November.
Admission to the Barbarians v Tonga match at Thomond Park (kick-off 7.30pm) also includes admission to the historic Women’s game between Munster and the first ever Barbarians Women’s selection (kick-off 4.45pm). Tickets are available from €;15 (adults).
BARBARIANS Squad (v Tonga) – Backs (10): Vince Aso (Hurricanes), George Bridge (Crusaders), Richard Buckman (Highlanders), Robert du Preez (Stormers), Andy Ellis (Kobelco Steelers/New Zealand), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs/Australia), Julian Savea (Hurricanes/New Zealand), David Smith (Castres Olympique), Nic Stirzaker (Rebels), Harold Vorster (Lions).
Forwards (12): Willie Britz (Sunwolves), Sam Carter (Brumbies/Australia), James Cronin (Munster/Ireland), Simone Favaro (Fiamme Oro), Jordi Murphy (Leinster/Ireland), Donncha O’Callaghan (Worcester Warriors), Geoff Parling (Munakata Sanix Blues), Brian Scott (Munster), Ruan Smith (Toyota Verblitz), Adriaan Strauss (Bulls/South Africa), Akker van der Merwe (Sharks), Jacques van Rooyen (Lions).