Having fallen to sixth in the RaboDirect PRO12 and lost their previous two matches in Cork, Munster will not be lacking in motivation when they entertain Edinburgh in the latest round of league action.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, February 9
MUNSTER (6th) v EDINBURGH (9th), Musgrave Park, 7.45pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)
Team News: Munster head coach Rob Penney has selected a youthful team for the province’s return to RaboDirect PRO12 action against Edinburgh at Musgrave Park on Saturday.
Only three players who featured in Munster’s last RaboDirect PRO12 game – against the Cardiff Blues in early January – will start this time around in Cork.
Nine players who started that night are either injured or involved with the Ireland squad, while three more – forwards Mike Sherry, David Foley and Tommy O’Donnell – are named on the province’s bench.
There are first starts of the season for Danny Barnes and Ivan Dineen in the back-line, while centre JJ Hanrahan, winger Johne Murphy and lock Ian Nagle all get their second starts of the campaign.
CJ Stander returns to the Munster team for the first time since breaking a bone in his hand in the match against Glasgow Warriors back on December 1.
The South African has featured in recent British & Irish Cup games and came on as a replacement in January against the Blues. He is picked at blindside flanker in a back row completed by Sean Dougall and stand-in captain James Coughlan.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh boss Michael Bradley has been able to call on three returning frontline players for the club’s fourth meeting with Munster this season.
Bradley is coping with 14 absentees due to injuries and international call-ups, the latest setbacks seeing Roddy Grant and Lewis Niven ruled out for the rest of the season.
But Wales prop John Yapp, South African lock Izak van der Westhuizen and Scotland cap Tom Brown are back in the starting line-up.
Also returning to the fold are Scotland ‘A’ internationals Ben Cairns (centre), Dougie Fife (winger), back rower Stuart McInally, who will be making his 50th appearance for the club, and full-back Greig Tonks who has recovered from the ankle strain he picked up in the recent win over England Saxons.
MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Johne Murphy, Ivan Dineen, JJ Hanrahan, Danny Barnes; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Marcus Horan, Damien Varley, BJ Botha, Ian Nagle, Billy Holland, CJ Stander, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan (capt).
Replacements: Mike Sherry, Wian du Preez, John Ryan, David Foley, Tommy O’Donnell, Paddy Butler, Cathal Sheridan, Scott Deasy.
EDINBURGH: Greig Tonks; Dougie Fife, Ben Cairns, Ben Atiga, Tom Brown; Piers Francis, Richie Rees; John Yapp, Andy Titterrell, Willem Nel, Perry Parker, Izak van der Westhuizen, Sean Cox (capt), Stuart McInally, Netani Talei.
Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Allan Jacobsen, Alex Allan, Grant Gilchrist, Hamish Watson, Chris Leck, Gregor Hunter, Lee Jones.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, John Carvill (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Seamus Flannery (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 2/7; Draw: 22/1; Edinburgh to win: 13/5
Pre-Match Quotes: Tommy O’Donnell (Munster) – “This is an area of the season we have always targeted to pick up points so that we can be in a better position when the international lads come back.
“You want to raise your game, you want to tell those lads, ‘we’re playing well and we’re going to be winning games when you’re away’.
“There’s a very good depth of squad, a lot of quality players in the British & Irish Cup squad. I played in the British & Irish Cup during the first two rounds of the Heineken Cup and yet was involved in the last rounds of the Heineken Cup.
“The system is there where you have the ability to go all the way up from the British & Irish Cup to Ireland.
“We’ve had a few poor results but we’re only two points off fourth and if we win this and a few results go our way, we can be right up there again.
“At this time of the season, it’s about building momentum and accruing points and putting yourself in a good position in April and May.”
Michael Bradley (Edinburgh) – “The international window is a challenging time for all of the squads in the RaboDirect PRO12, so we’re delighted to welcome back three quality players for such a big match.
“There’s a good and dangerous balance to our side. There’s a lot of size, power and mobility in our pack and there’s a good bit of pace and guile in the backs.
“The challenge for us is to combine these elements and put in an aggressive and well-managed performance for the full 80 minutes.
“Munster are three from three against us this season so will be full of confidence going into another home game for them, however we’re very happy with the strength of this squad and will be going all out with a score to settle.”
Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 88; Tries: Tommy O’Donnell 4; Edinburgh – Points: Greig Laidlaw 79; Tries: Tim Visser 11
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, February 19, 2010 – Munster 19 Edinburgh 12, Musgrave Park
Friday, September 10, 2010 – Edinburgh 13 Munster 16, Murrayfield
Friday, February 18, 2011 – Munster 23 Edinburgh 13, Thomond Park
Friday, September 30, 2011 – Edinburgh 29 Munster 14, Murrayfield
Saturday, November 26, 2011 – Munster 34 Edinburgh 17, Thomond Park
Saturday, September 1, 2012 – Edinburgh 18 Munster 23, Murrayfield
– Munster have won four of their last five games in all competitions, but their home record varies wildly with the venue: winning their last nine fixtures at Thomond Park but losing their last two at Musgrave Park
– The Munstermen have won their last six encounters with Scottish opponents
– Edinburgh have slipped to seven straight defeats in all competitions since beating Connacht 24-23 at the Sportsground in round 10 of the RaboDirect PRO12, this victory representing Edinburgh’s only one over an Irish province in their last 14 such encounters
– Munster have already beaten Edinburgh three times in all competitions this season
– The Scottish outfit have not triumphed on Munster soil since October 2006 in Limerick, while they have not won in Cork since April 2004