MUNSTER coach Tony McGahan has named his strongest-available selection for Friday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 showdown with Leinster in the Aviva Stadium.
McGahan has made three changes to the side from the one that beat Aironi last weekend with Donncha O’Callaghan, Niall Ronan and Lifeimi Mafi all coming in to start.
James Coughlan and Peter O’Mahony are the ones to lose out in the pack while Danny Barnes loses out to Mafi in the centre. Mafi’s inclusion sees him play with another new partner in the centre as Australian Will Chambers keeps his place.
O’Callaghan’s inclusion sees Donncha Ryan move to blindside flanker with Leamy at Number 8 instead of Coughlan and Niall Ronan named ahead of impressive youngster Peter O’Mahony.
Veteran props John Hayes and Marcus Horan are named on the bench while Tomas O’Leary is preferred ahead of Peter Stringer and Ian Keatley returns to the squad after missing last week’s game because of injury.
Leinster have also named a strong team but Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll isn’t included in the match-day squad. There is also no starting place for Leinster’s two Limerickmen Eoin Reddan and Sean Cronin. Richardt Strauss is preferred at hooker ahead of Cronin while Isaac Boss starts at scrum-half instead of Reddan.
In a strong backline, Fergus McFadden partners Gordon D’Arcy in the centre, Isa Nacewa and Luke Fitzgerald are on the wings and Rob Kearney is full-back.
So far over 46,000 tickets have been sold. The game is live on TG4.
MUNSTER - Johne Murphy; Doug Howlett, Will Chambers, Lifeimi Mafi, Keith Earls; Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell capt; Donncha Ryan, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy. Replacements. Denis Fogarty, Marcus Horan, John Hayes, Peter O’Mahony, James Coughlan, Tomas O’Leary, Ian Keatley, Danny Barnes.
LEINSTER - Rob Kearney; Isa Nacewa, Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonny Sexton, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross; Leo Cullen, Devin Toner; Sean O’Brien, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Sean Cronin, Heinke van der Merwe, Jamie Hagan, Kevin McLaughlin, Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Eoin O’Malley