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Munster Hand First Starts To Hodnett, Knox And McHenry

Munster Hand First Starts To Hodnett, Knox And McHenry

Ireland Sevens international Alex McHenry training with the Munster squad ahead of their pre-season opener against London Irish ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

An extended Munster squad has been selected by head coach Johann van Graan for Friday night’s pre-season opener against London Irish at Irish Independent Park (kick-off 7.30pm).

Tickets for the game in Cork are available to buy online here. Family pack tickets for two adults and two juniors are priced at €30, adults can gain admission at €15, and junior tickets are €5.

Eight Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players are included in the matchday squad with John Hodnett, one of the Ireland Under-20s’ Grand Slam-winning heroes from last season, Keynan Knox and Alex McHenry all set to make their first starts for the senior team.

Fellow Academy player Liam Coombes also starts with Diarmuid Barron, Thomas Ahern, Jack O’Sullivan and Ben Healy named on the bench. Experienced out-half Tyler Bleyendaal captains the side and is partnered at half-back by Neil Cronin, the former Garryowen captain.

Darren Sweetnam starts for Munster at full-back for the first time, flanked by Calvin Nash and Coombes in the back-three, while McHenry and Dan Goggin, who both have Ireland Sevens experience, make up the centre combination.

In the pack, Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne and 20-year-old tighthead Knox start together in the front row with Darren O’Shea and Fineen Wycherley packing down in the engine room. Jack O’Donoghue and west Cork duo Hodnett and Gavin Coombes form the loose forwards trio.

The aforementioned Ahern, O’Sullivan and Healy are standing by to make their Munster debuts as replacements, along with scrum half Nick McCarthy who was signed from Leinster on a two-year deal. Munster will wear their new adidas home kit which is available exclusively at Life Style Sports.

MUNSTER (v London Irish): Darren Sweetnam; Calvin Nash, Alex McHenry, Dan Goggin, Liam Coombes; Tyler Bleyendaal (capt), Neil Cronin; Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne, Keynan Knox, Darren O’Shea, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, James Cronin, Peter McCabe, Stephen Archer, Thomas Ahern, Seán O’Connor, Arno Botha, Tommy O’Donnell, Jack O’Sullivan, Craig Casey, Nick McCarthy, JJ Hanrahan, Ben Healy, Shane Daly, Rory Scannell, Mike Haley.