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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Munster v Edinburgh

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Munster v Edinburgh

The post-Ronan O’Gara era begins for Munster on Saturday when they welcome Edinburgh to Musgrave Park in the opening round of the RaboDirect PRO12, with Ian Keatley filling the retired Corkman’s boots.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, September 7

MUNSTER v EDINBURGH, Musgrave Park, 7.15pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)

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Team News: Prop James Cronin, who started against Gloucester in Munster’s opening pre-season game, will make his first competitive start for the province in Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 opener against Edinburgh at Musgrave Park.

Dolphin clubman Cronin was promoted from the Munster Academy to a development contract this summer. He has two caps to his name after coming on against Leinster and Zebre in the latter stages of last season, and he joins Mike Sherry and Stephen Archer in the front row.

James Coughlan captains the selected Munster squad which includes returning Ireland internationals David Kilcoyne and Tommy O’Donnell, both of whom will start on the bench.

Tickets are available to buy for Saturday’s encounter online here, from the Munster Rugby ticket offices in Musgrave Park and Thomond Park or by calling 0818 719300.

Tickets will be on sale on matchday from the Dolphin and Sunday’s Well entrances of the ground.

Meanwhile, Sean Cox will lead Edinburgh in Cork in the absence of injured scrum half Greig Laidlaw (knee), who was named club captain for the third successive season, equalling Todd Blackadder’s record for the modern era.

Cox is one of eight forwards selected to start a third match in-a-row – their reward for two physical outings in pre-season, the most recent being last Friday’s 15-5 win over Newcastle Falcons at Mansfield Park in Hawick.

Sean Kennedy replaces Laidlaw as one of three personnel changes to the backs division. Ben Atiga starts at inside centre and Scotland international Lee Jones returns to the left wing, having recovered from the calf strain that ruled him out of the Falcons game.

Their introduction allows Nick De Luca and Dougie Fife to move back to their familiar positions of outside centre and right wing.

Promising prospect Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is also poised to make his competitive debut from the bench, after spending a summer in New Zealand on the Macphail scholarship.

MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Ronan O’Mahony, Casey Laulala, Ivan Dineen, Johne Murphy; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer, David Foley, Donncha O’Callaghan, David O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan (capt).

Replacements: Damien Varley, David Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, Cathal Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan, Cian Bohane.

EDINBURGH: Greig Tonks; Dougie Fife, Nick De Luca, Ben Atiga, Lee Jones; Piers Francis, Sean Kennedy; Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Izak van der Westhuizen, Sean Cox (capt), Roddy Grant, David Denton.

Replacements: Aleki Lutui, Geoff Cross, Lewis Niven, Ollie Atkins, Hamish Watson, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Harry Leonard, Jack Cuthbert.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, Paul Haycock (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Jude Quinn (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/6; Draw: 25/1; Edinburgh to win: 4/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Sean Dougall (Munster) – “Injuries are part and parcel of rugby and sport in general. Obviously, it (knee ligament injury) was frustrating but I feel I’ve come back each time in a good condition.

“I need to take my chances for the rest of the season and hopefully stay injury-free. Now it’s just about keeping my head down and working hard and being able to perform when I get my chances.

“I think the fact some players have left and there are some new faces around means there’s a bit of a buzz and it’s really exciting. We’ve been training for eight weeks and we just want to get going now and kick on with the new season.

“You look at the players that got international honours last year, even fellas who’ve come through and cemented a place down in the squad, and it’s exciting. While it’s not nice to see Rog (Ronan O’Gara) and Dougie (Howlett) go, they’ve left a legacy behind them.

“Young lads want to achieve some of the success they’ve achieved. I think there was a few frustrating periods in last season where we weren’t performing to the level we want to but as we showed in the quarter-final of the Heineken Cup, we can match that level.

“I think with the year behind us already under Rob’s game-plan, it’s just a really promising future ahead for us this season.”

Alan Solomons (Edinburgh) – “We said from the beginning that we wanted to get a measure of consistency going into the first game, so being able to have a settled pack makes a big difference to us.

“It’s a reasonably experienced pack who have delivered two solid performances and so have merited their reselection.

“Unfortunately the backs are not in the same position because we have injuries to key top-flight international players: Greig Laidlaw, our captain, Tim Visser and Matt Scott are all out.

“These are three, starting fifteen Scottish internationals, so clearly we are going to miss them. However, the boys coming in have played quite a bit in pre-season.

“Sean (Kennedy), Dougie (Fife) and Lee (Jones) are all really good, young players while Ben (Atiga) is an experienced campaigner who knows the set-up, so I think they certainly have the capability of fitting in and doing the job.”


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
Saturday, February 9, 2013 – Munster 30 Edinburgh 3, Musgrave Park


– Munster’s only defeat over the opening weekend of the RaboDirect PRO12 since 2006 was at the hands of Glasgow Warriors in 2009

– The Munstermen won just two of their four home games played at Musgrave Park last season, but one of those was at least against this week’s opponents Edinburgh

– No Scottish side has won on Munster soil since Glasgow visited Cork in May 2008. Edinburgh have managed only one victory in their last seven round 1 fixtures: 22-21 against the Cardiff Blues at the City Stadium in 2009

– The Scottish club’s only win away from home since last December remains their 9-7 victory at Zebre on March 29

– Edinburgh have won just one game in their last 18 visits to Ireland since 2009: 24-23 at Connacht last December

– Munster have won their last five encounters with Edinburgh in all competitions. The Scotsmen’s most recent triumph in Munster was at Thomond Park in October 2006, their only previous win at Musgrave Park being way back in April 2004