ROB Penney’s first competitive selection as Munster coach includes three summer signings in centres Casey Laulala and James Downey as well as flanker Sean Dougall.
Irish star Donncha O’Callaghan will start in Munster’s second row for the RaboDirect PRO12 opener with Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Saturday (8pm), while international hooker Mike Sherry is named among the replacements.
Besides the three newcomers, the only uncapped player in the squad for the trip to Murrayfield is wing forward Barry O’Mahony. Former All-Black wing Doug Howlett leads the side for the first time competitively in his new role as squad captain.
Downey and Laulala form the midfield pairing and after an impressive debut season in which he scored four tries Luke O’Dea is named on the left wing.
Up front, there’s a strong spine to the selection, with hooker Damien Varley propped by the South African pair Wian du Preez and BJ Botha. O’Callaghan is partnered in the second row by Billy Holland, with Dougall joined in the back row by a mix of youth and experience in the shape of Paddy Butler and James Coughlan.
Michael Bradley’s Edinburgh side welcome back a number of his Scottish internationals who were involved in the triumphant three Test Australasia tour.
Top try-scorer Tim Visser, skipper Greig Laidlaw, Nick De Luca, Ross Ford and Ross Rennie are likely to feature at some stage on Saturday, while David Denton rejoins the extended squad for the first time since sustaining the ankle injury that forced him to miss the summer tour.
Munster: Denis Hurley; Doug Howlett capt, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Luke O’Dea; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan, Billy Holland; Paddy Butler, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan. Replacements: Mike Sherry, Marcus Horan, Stephen Archer, Dave Foley, Barry O’Mahony, Peter Stringer, Scott Deasy, Ivan Dineen.