O’Connell and van Den Heever to start for Munster against Dragons

Steven Miller

Reporter:

Steven Miller

editorial image
South African winger Gerhard van den Heever will make his Munster debut against the Dragons on Friday night in the RaboDirect PRO12 while Paul O’Connell will also start.

South African winger Gerhard van den Heever will make his Munster debut against the Dragons on Friday night in the RaboDirect PRO12 while Paul O’Connell will also start.

In a much-changed side from the one that recorded a bonus-point victory over Cardiff Blues last weekend, Keith Earls, James Downey and Ian Keatley all return from injury for the game at Rodney Parade.

There are 12 changes in total with Felix Jones the only back to hold his place while CJ Stander and Billy Holland the only survivor up front.

Billy Holland captains the side and starts in the back row alongside James Coughlan and Stander while O’Connell packs down with Donncha O’Callaghan in the second row. Stephen Archer makes his 60th appearance for the province in the front row where he is joined by Mike Sherry and Dave Kilcoyne.

Duncan Williams comes in for Cathal Sheridan at scrum half to team up with Keatley and Earls and Downey will team up in the centre.

Denis Hurley is another to return from injury as he makes his first start since injuring his knee in the Heineken Cup.

Ian Nagle and Barry O’Mahony are among the replacements

Munster go into the game as leaders of the RaboDirect PRO12 and will be keen to extend their five-game winning streak, ahead of the Heineken Cup back-to-back games against Perpignan a week later.

“There are some players getting an opportunity this week that will need to play well to force their hand in terms of ERC selection,” said Rob Penney.

“It’s exciting because the other guys have done their job and when you’re growing in depth and guys are getting rotated in, then they’ve got to perform well when they get their opportunity.”

Friday night’s game will not be televised.

MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Gerhard van den Heever, Keith Earls, James Downey, Denis Hurley; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer; Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell; Billy Holland (Capt.), CJ Stander, James Coughlan. Replacements: Damien Varley, James Cronin, BJ Botha, Ian Nagle, Barry O’Mahony, Cathal Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan, Ivan Dineen