Munster team named for Saracens game
DAVE O’Callaghan will make his first Heineken Cup start for Munster against Saracens in Thomond Park on Saturday.
O’Callaghan will become the fifth Munster player to make his European debut this season when he starts in a backrow alongside Peter O’Mahony and James Coughlan.
In total there are five changes from Munster’s last Heineken Cup game, the 33-0 win over Edinburgh back in October.
Paul O’Connell’s continued absence sees Donncha Ryan and Donnacha O’Callaghan pack down in the second row while Sean Dougall’s injury allows Dave O’Callaghan in at blindside flanker with James Coughlan’s return seeing Peter O’Mahony switch from Number 8 to openside.
Ronan O’Gara, who missed the win over Edinburgh with a hamstring injury, returns at outhalf with Ian Keatley making way. Felix Jones comes into the side at full-back instead of Denis Hurley while Keith Earls’ return to full fitness sees him named in his favoured outside centre position. Summer signing Casey Laulala is on the bench so Earls teams up with James Downey.
The Munster bench has a mix of youth and experience. Wian du Preez, who missed the first two Heineken Cup games, is now behind Dave Kilcoyne and starts on the bench where is joined by Damien Varley, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland and Paddy Butler. Duncan Williams is preferred ahead of veteran scrumhalf Peter Stringer with Keatley and Laulala completing the replacements list.
Meanwhile, Saracens have named a strong team for the Thomond Park clash.
They are boosted by the return of their English internationals who played a key role in the win over New Zealand last weekend.
Charlie Hodgson is preferred to Owen Farrell at outhalf but Farrell is included in the starting team where he will team up fellow England star Brad Barritt in the centre. Chris Ashton and David Strettle are on the wings and Alex Goode is at full-back.
Up front, Matt Stevens is named at prop in a pack that includes Wales international Rhys Gill, South African hooker Schalk Brits, Scottish backrow Kelly Brown and team captain Steve Borthwick.
The game kicks off at 6pm in Thomond Park. Munster are 8/15 favourites with Saracens at 6/4.
MUNSTER V Saracens - Felix Jones; Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha; Donnacha Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan; Dave O’Callaghan, Peter O’Mahony, James Coughlan. Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Paddy Butler, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Casey Laulala
SARACENS V Munster - Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, David Strettle; Charlie Hodgson, Neil de Kock; Rhys Gill, Schalk Brits, Matt Stevens; Steve Borthwick, Mouritz Botha; Kelly Brown, Will Fraser, Ernst Joubert. Replacements: John Smit, Mako Vunipola, Petrus du Plessis, George Kruis, Andy Saull, Richard Wigglesworth, Joel Tomkins, Chris Wyles
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