Munster are set for their first runout of 2011 at Musgrave Park as they look to complete a season’s double over Glasgow Wariors and maintain their push for a Magners League play-off spot.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, January 8
MUNSTER (1st) v GLASGOW WARRIORS (10th), Musgrave Park, 7.30pm (live RTE Two/BBC ALBA)
Team News: Munster head coach Tony McGahan has made eight changes in personnel for the province’s Magners League match against Glasgow Warriors at Musgrave Park on Saturday.
There are three new inclusions in the back-line as Lifeimi Mafi, Johne Murphy and Ronan O’Gara return at the expense of Sam Tuitupou, Denis Hurley and Scott Deasy.
With O’Gara slotting in at out-half alongside his long-term half-back partner Peter Stringer, Paul Warwick reverts to the full-back position.
There are two changes in the front row as props Darragh Hurley and John Hayes come in for Wian du Preez and Peter Borlase respectively, with Tony Buckley sidelined by a virus. It will be Hurley’s first start of the season after four appearances off the bench.
Donncha O’Callaghan returns from his enforced rest to partner the in-form Mick O’Driscoll in the second row, while stand-in captain Denis Leamy has James Coughlan and David Wallace for company in the back row.
Two Academy players, Mike Sherry and Dave Kilcoyne, fill two of the three front row places on the bench.
Speaking ahead of the game, McGahan said: “The selection was made very much with Glasgow Warriors in mind. It would be disrespectful to our opponents and to the competition itself if we allowed ourselves be distracted.
“Of course, selections have to be made mindful of what lies ahead but the task in hand is Warriors. We’ll deal with next week (and Toulon) once this one is over.”
Meanwhile, Scotland number 8 Johnnie Beattie will make his return to frontline action when Glasgow Warriors take on Munster in Cork.
Beattie has been out with a shoulder injury since he returned from Scotland’s Test series win in Argentina last summer and Glasgow supremo Sean Lineen is delighted to have another of his key players back available for selection.
“It’s great to have John back. He’s worked incredibly hard and it’s been frustrating for him more than me,” said Lineen.
“John is a model professional and I think he’s matured over the last few months. We’ve had him involved in a lot of meetings and analysis and he’s delivered really well there. But now he’s fit and ready to go.”
Beattie takes the place of Richie Vernon who picked up a dead leg in last weekend’s derby defeat at Edinburgh, while Dougie Hall comes in at hooker for dead leg victim Fergus Thomson.
The third change in the forwards sees Ryan Grant positioned at loosehead prop, in place of Jon Welsh who drops to the bench.
Alex Dunbar will make his second start for the club on the right wing, taking over from Hefin O’Hare who is nursing a calf injury.
Dave McCall also returns to the matchday squad as a replacement. An ankle injury has sidelined Federico Martin Aramburu, prompting a call-up for McCall.
MUNSTER: Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Lifeimi Mafi, Johne Murphy; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Darragh Hurley, Damien Varley, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, James Coughlan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy (capt).
Replacements: Mike Sherry, David Kilcoyne, Peter Borlase, Donnacha Ryan, Niall Ronan, Tomas O’Leary, Sam Tuitupou, Denis Hurley.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Bernardo Stortoni; Alex Dunbar, Max Evans, Peter Murchie, DTH van der Merwe; Ruaridh Jackson, Colin Gregor; Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Richie Gray, Alastair Kellock (capt), Robert Harley, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Kevin Tkachuk, Jon Welsh, Aly Muldowney, Ryan Wilson, Henry Pyrgos, Dave McCall, Peter Horne.
Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Alan Rogan, Eanna O’Dowd (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/12; Draw: 25/1; Glasgow Warriors to win: 11/2
Pre-Match Quotes: Tony McGahan (Munster) – “You really need to focus on the competition that you’re in at any given stage. It’s really a lack of respect for the competition, for your opponents and for ourselves if you don’t approach it in that way.
“Ulster is done and our next game is Glasgow, and that’s our immediate thought. When Glasgow is finished, we’ll look forward to Toulon (next week), and once that’s finished we’ll look forward to London Irish. It’s too tough a competition not to be doing that.
“The coaching staff and Paul (O’Connell) himself will understand where he’s at and we’ll make that decision after Saturday.
“Game-time is indisputable when coming back from any injury. There is absolutely no other science that allows you to replicate game-time.
“Paul will be short in that regard, but we hope that the work that he has got through in training will be some small substitute for that.
“Jerry *Flannery) had been up at national camp on the Wednesday and Thursday before the Ulster game, so it certainly had nothing to do with his previous injuries.
“It’s a different calf, a completely different injury. The only positive out of it is that it is his other calf and it just a straight tear. We expect him to be out for four to six weeks.”
Sean Lineen (Glasgow Warriors) – “There was relative disappointment following the second Edinburgh game having experienced euphoria after the first.
“As for Munster, there’s such a confidence in them. The name Munster just seeps of rugby. Munster have quality players right throughout their team and are on fire at the moment at the top of the league.
“They have particular strength at nine and ten with players like Peter Stringer, Tomas O’Leary, Ronan O’Gara and Paul Warwick who direct the mighty Munster ship so well.
“But we need to match their physicality and that starts up front with the forwards.”
Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Munster – Points: Ronan O’Gara 90; Tries: Niall Ronan 3; Glasgow Warriors – Points: Duncan Weir 68; Tries: DTH van der Merwe 6
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, May 10, 2008 – Munster 18 Glasgow Warriors 21, Musgrave Park
Saturday, October 4, 2008 – Munster 25 Glasgow Warriors 17, Thomond Park
Friday, March 27, 2009 – Glasgow Warriors 13 Munster 26, Firhill Stadium
Friday, September 4, 2009 – Munster 22 Glasgow Warriors 9, Firhill Stadium
Friday, March 26, 2010 – Munster 27 Glasgow Warriors 19, Thomond Park
Friday, September 24, 2010 – Glasgow Warriors 29 Munster 43, Firhill Stadium
– Table-topping Munster have dropped just three of a possible 30 league points in home games in the competition this season
– The Munstermen have won their last four matches against Scottish opponents
– Glasgow Warriors have won just one of their last five games in all competitions, beating Edinburgh 30-18 at home on December 27
– The Warriors’ lone away win since last January was a 37-32 triumph at the Scarlets in the Magners League on May 7
– Munster have won four of their last five matches against Glasgow, while the Warriors’ most recent victory on Munster soil was a 21-18 success at Musgrave Park in May 2008