Munster set for Scarlets battle

Colm Kinsella looks forward to Munster’s RaboDirect PRO12 game against the Scarlets this weekend.

Colm Kinsella looks forward to Munster’s RaboDirect PRO12 game against the Scarlets this weekend.

RONAN O’Gara looks in line to feature for Munster in their RaboDirect PRO12 clash with the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday (6.30pm).

The vastly experienced O’Gara came on as a first half replacement for Ireland in Sunday’s disappointing RBS Six Nations defeat to England after Jonathan Sexton was forced off with a hamstring injury.

While Sexton remains an injury doubt for the Six Nations clash with Scotland on Sunday week, the Irish management team may well opt to make O’Gara available for Munster this weekend in order to give the 35-year-old valuable game-time ahead of the trip to Murrayfield.

O’Gara joined up with his Munster team mates for a squad training session in UL this Tuesday.

Injured lock Paul O’Connell was also at the session lending a hand and a Munster spokesman said the former captain remained on track to return to action in April.

Munster head coach, Rob Penney said: “I think Ronan (O’Gara) is someone who would be keen to get some footie and we will just get the word from up above (Ireland camp) and as we always do, if the Irish boys need footie and want to play, they will be selected.”

Penney is unsure whether flying winger Simon Zebo will be available for Munster’s Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Harlequins at the start of April after breaking a bone in his foot playing for Ireland at the weekend.

“Sport can be cruel. But he is young and resilient,” Penney said.

“Simon will bounce back. It is not fatal. The other side of the ledger is that it is a long season. There is still a lot of footie to be played.

“I wouldn’t venture to guess whether Simon (Zebo) would be available for the Heineken Cup quarter-final. It is too tough. We have been told 10 weeks which would make him unavailable.

“I think there is plenty of football for him to prove himself (to the Lions selection team). I am sure that they will be keen to take him. That would be my guess.

Both team captain Doug Howlett and winger Felix Jones – who underwent minor knee surgery recently – are unlikely to feature against the Scarlets this weekend.

Centre Casey Laulala, who missed last weekend’s victory over Edinburgh as he attended his brother’s wedding in New Zealand, will be available for selection.

Utility back Luke O’Dea could feature for Shannon in their AIL clash with Clontarf on Saturday as he works his way back to full fitness.

Lock Donncha O’Callaghan, no longer a first choice starter for Ireland, also trained with the Munster squad earlier this week and could feature on Saturday against the Scarlets.

The Welsh side recorded a gritty 13-6 victory over Munster when the sides met in the PRO12 at Musgrave Park last November.

Coach Penney said he was pleased with his side’s display against Edinburgh last weekend.

Penney said: “I was delighted with the 80 minutes against Edinburgh. We did some really good stuff in the early part of the game to set ourselves up for what was a really good second half.

“We gave away some penalties at scrum time which hindered our ability to get some flow, but we built into the game nicely given we that we had three weeks off and didn’t have a lot of opportunity to be together.”