Preview: Munster v Edinburgh

Date published: November 25 2011

Munster coach Tony McGahan gives several youngsters a chance to make an impression in Saturday's PRO12 clash against Edinburgh.

Munster coach Tony McGahan gives several youngsters a chance to make an impression in Saturday's RaboDirect PRO12 clash against Edinburgh.

McGahan is forced to do this as thirteen of his squad are unavailable through injury – six of those current internationals – and the likes of Paul O'Connell, Ronan O'Gara and Conor Murray are unavailable to him because of national squad policy.

Only two players – Will Chambers and Donncha O'Callaghan – remain from the side that started against Leinster earlier in the month.

Ten of Saturday's matchday squad were involved in Munster's British & Irish Cup win over Neath last weekend, while two more, skipper Mick O'Driscoll and Scott Deasy were in France as back up for the Heineken Cup side.

Assistant coach Anthony Foley believes that the wholesale changes in personnel provides opportunities for players to stake their claims for full-time starting berths.

“Look, whatever side is selected, the players all train together, all sit down and review and preview the opposition. They work together in training. So everyone understands what's required,” said Foley.

“They've (Edinburgh) come off the back of two great weekends in Europe but so have we and with the game in Thomond Park with hopefully a massive support, the opportunity is there for fellas to make a case for themselves because there are places up for grabs in the team.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh welcome the return of Chris Paterson and Phil Godman to their starting line-up for Saturday's match.

The sides have met once already this season, with Edinburgh seeing off the then unbeaten champions 29-14 courtesy of tries from centre Matt Scott and tomorrow's captain and hooker, Steven Lawrie.

Edinburgh's coach Michael Bradley is optimistic about his side's chances.

“The last three weeks of successes all started with a win away against Benetton in Treviso which gave us confidence going into London Irish, which we converted, followed by the match against Racing Metro, which was a special day for everyone that was there,” he said.

“We've won three matches in a row but it would be great to win four. To do that we need to keep our performance levels up and show the same commitment for 80 minutes that we have in these three previous games.

“The boys are in a good place. They're looking forward to the challenge against Munster away and then Aironi back home next week; both of which are important to us and our season,” added Bradley.

Godman's start is the latest positive step in the return of the 23-times capped stand-off, while Paterson starts for the first time since straining his groin on his return match from the Rugby World Cup against Leinster in October.

Paterson's return sees Jim Thompson move in one place to outside centre where he partners James King who, like try-scoring winger Tom Brown, has been promoted from the bench following an impressive replacement showing against Racing Metro last weekend.

Sep Visser, the 20-year-old younger brother of try-scoring sensation, Tim, has been handed his first competitive start on the right wing, while Scotland and British Lions scrum-half Mike Blair reforms a familiar half-back partnership with Godman on his 150th match in the black and red.

In the pack, Bradley has challenged a new front row trio to grasp the opportunity to impress against quality opposition, with Kyle Traynor and Jack Gilding propping alongside Lawrie.

Form: Munster have won three of their last four games in all competitions. Their only home defeat this season was to Ospreys at Thomond Park in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 8 October. The Munstermen have won their last six home games against Scottish opponents since Glasgow won 21-18 in Cork on 10 May 2008. Edinburgh Rugby have won three successive matches in all competitions,their best run since the opening of the 2009/10 season. The Scotsmen's only victory in their last eleven visits to Ireland since 2008 was 16-13 over Ulster at Ravenhill on 18 September 2009. The two sides have already met in round five of the RaboDirect PRO12 with Edinburgh winning 29-14 at Murrayfield. Edinburgh have not achieved a season's double over Munster since season 2003/04.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Luke O'Dea, 13 Will Chambers, 12 Danny Barnes, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Paddy Butler, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Billy Holland, 5 Mick O'Driscoll (c), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Denis Fogarty, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Sean Henry, 17 John Ryan, 18 John Hayes, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 James Coughlan, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Tom Gleeson, 23 Scott Deasy.

Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Sep Visser, 13 Jim Thompson, 12 James King, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Netani Talei, 5 Steven Turnbull, 4 Sean Cox, 3 Jack Gilding, 2 Steven Lawrie (c), 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Kelly, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Esteban Lozada, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Harry Leonard, 23 Gregor Hunter.

Date: Saturday, November 26
Kick-off: 20:30
Venue: Thomond Park Stadium
Referee: Neil Paterson
Assistant referees: John Carvill, Brian Macneice
Television match official: Jude Quinn