England’s Geoff Parling leads the Barbarians in the final match of their autumn tour against Tonga at Thomond Park on Friday (kick-off 7.30pm). The match is free to view online at www.punditarena.com/tv.
The clash with the Tongans is the famous invitation club’s fifth outing in the space of three weeks. It follows games against the Classic Wallabies, Australia and New Zealand, and the Barbarians Women’s debut against Munster, kicking off earlier in the day at 4.45pm.
The Barbarians scored four tries apiece in their defeats to Australia (31-28) and New Zealand (31-22) but are looking for their first win of the year against international opposition – something Geoff Parling is eager to secure on his debut.
“It’s a brilliant honour to captain this club and I’m looking forward to wearing that shirt,” he said. “Some of the boys have been on tour for three weeks now and we want to finish on a high note after some good performances. We want to show how much enjoyment we’ve had together and do that by expressing ourselves on the pitch.”
Four Irish players make their Baa Baas debuts in the shape of Munster props James Cronin and Brian Scott, Connacht lock Quinn Roux and Leinster flanker Jordi Murphy.
Two more Irishmen, Donncha O’Callaghan and Connacht captain John Muldoon, are among a powerful set of replacements featuring five internationals, although All Blacks winger Julian Savea misses out with a sore knee.
Worcester Warriors skipper O’Callaghan is making what may be his final professional appearance at Thomond Park. The veteran lock won every available honour in his years with Munster and makes his second appearance for the Baa Baas.
The Barbarians also welcome back one of their most potent attacking forces in Taqele Naiyaravoro. The giant Australia winger was man-of-the-match in last season’s 31-all draw with South Africa, scored twice against Australia last month and makes his first European appearance for the club since starring in last year’s 40-7 victory over Fiji in Belfast.
Tickets for the Barbarians double header are available from €;15 for adults and €;10 for juniors and can be purchased online here. The ticket office in Thomond Park will also be open from 9am tomorrow.?
BARBARIANS (v Tonga): George Bridge (Crusaders); Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs/Australia), Richard Buckman (Highlanders), Harold Vorster (Lions), Vince Aso (Hurricanes); Robert du Preez (Stormers), Nic Stirzaker (Rebels); James Cronin (Munster/Ireland), Akker van der Merwe (Sharks), Brian Scott (Munster), Geoff Parling (Munakata Sanix Blues/England) (capt), Quinn Roux (Connacht/Ireland), Jordi Murphy (Leinster/Ireland), Simone Favaro (Fiamme Oro/Italy), Willie Britz (Sunwolves).
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss (Bulls/South Africa), Jacques van Rooyen (Lions), Ruan Smith (Toyota Verblitz), Donncha O’Callaghan (Worcester Warriors/Ireland), John Muldoon (Connacht/Ireland), Andy Ellis (Kobelco Steelers/New Zealand), David Smith (Castres), Sam Carter (Brumbies/Australia).