VETERAN prop John Hayes is set to be involved with the Munster squad for the opening rounds of the RaboDirect PRO12 having been omitted from Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squad.
Thirty seven-year-old Hayes lost out in the battle to fill one of the four propping berths Irish coach Declan Kidney had in his squad which travels to New Zealand on Tuesday next.
Hayes is contracted with the IRFU until the end of the World Cup in late October, so he will remain part of the Munster squad until then. Munster have no plans to extend Hayes’ involvement with the province beyond that, however.
While Hayes is not included in the Munster squad for Friday night’s final pre-season friendly with London Irish at Thomond Park (7pm), as the tighthead has been ‘given the week off’, the Cappamore man is set to resume training with Munster on Monday next.
Tomas O’Leary, a surprise omission from Declan Kidney’s World Cup squad, is not involved in the game either. However, Peter Stringer who also misses out on a trip to New Zealand, is named as replacement scrum-half for the game with the Exiles as Duncan Williams partners Ian Keatley at half-back.
Munster wing Doug Howlett believes supporters should expect the unexpected in the opening rounds of the RaboDirect Pro12 over the coming weeks. Munster will be without the services of 9 World Cup bound players for the early rounds of the competition.
Doug Howlett said: “I guess we are going to miss people but that said there are a group of players waiting for the last two years to get their shot and show what they can do. It is exciting that these young players are getting their chance. We can’t look past the Dragons who are our first game at home (September 3). They have caused us quite a few problems in the last few seasons. We are expecting a tough one.”
Johne Murphy, hamstring, and Darragh Hurley, Achilles, are other notable absentees from the squad for Friday night’s friendly with ‘Irish’.
Murphy should be available for the RaboDirect PRO12 opener against the Dragons at Musgrave Park, while it may be a fortnight or three weeks before Hurley is ready to resume. Munster also play an ‘A’ game against Connacht at Thomond Park on Friday at 4.15pm.
MUNSTER - Sean Scanlon; Doug Howlett, Danny Barnes, Lifeimi Mafi, Denis Hurley; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Marcus Horan, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer; Mick O’Driscoll, Ian Nagle; Billy Holland, Niall Ronan, Peter O’Mahony. Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, Peter Borlase, Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter Stringer.
MUNSTER ‘A’ - JJ Hanrahan; Corey Hircock, Ivan Dinneen, Tom Gleeson, Luke O’Dea; Declan Cusack, Gerry Hurley; Dave Kilcoyne, Denis Fogarty, John Ryan; Dave Foley, Philip Donnellan; Shane Buckley, Brian O’Hara, Paddy Butler (Capt). Replacements: Sean Henry, James Cronin, Christy Condon, Brian Hayes, John Shine, Cathal Sheridan, Gareth Quinn-McDonogh, Ronan O’Mahony.