MUNSTER head coach Rob Penney has included Paul O’Connell among the replacements for Saturday evening’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Newport Gwent Dragons at Musgrave Park, 6.45pm.
O’Connell has not seen competitive action since breaking a bone in his arm while playing for the Lions in the first Test with Australia in June. News of his inclusion on the replacements’ bench this weekend is not just a major boost for Munster’s clash with the Dragons this weekend, but also ahead of the crucial PRO12 fixtures with Leinster on October 5 and the Heineken Cup ties against Edinburgh and Gloucester later next month.
With Conor Murray ruled out of Saturday’s tie with the Dragons due to a toe injury, coach Penney has opted to start scrum-half Cathal Sheridan alongside his UL-Bohs clubmate JJ Hanrahan at half-back.
Following a promising first outing in the league against Edinburgh, James Cronin has been selected to start at loosehead prop alongside Damien Varley and John Ryan in the front row. Keith Earls shifts in from the wing to start in the number 13 jersey in a new centre partnership with Ivan Dineen.
Felix Jones is also in line to make his first appearance of the season after recovering from shoulder surgery as he is named amongst the substitutes.
Munster: Johne Murphy; Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Ivan Dineen, Simon Zebo; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; James Cronin, Damien Varley, John Ryan; Donncha O’Callaghan, Dave Foley; Peter O’Mahony (Capt), Sean Dougall, Paddy Butler. Replacements: Mike Sherry, David Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Paul O’Connell, CJ Stander, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Felix Jones.