Preview: Munster v Edinburgh

Date published: September 4 2014

Edinburgh have named captain Mike Coman on the bench for their PRO12 opener against Munster, with Ross Ford leading on Friday.

Edinburgh have named club captain Mike Coman on the bench for their PRO12 opener against Munster, with Ross Ford leading the XV in Limerick.

Coman wears jersey number 20 as Cornell du Preez is at eight while youngster Hamish Watson is on the flank after impressing in pre-season.

Watson, a Scotland U19 and U20 capped player, is a graduate of Edinburgh's Elite Development Programme and will be making his seventh start from 17 appearances to date for the club.

“The warm-up matches were a pretty good chance to put a marker down and show who should be selected,” said the openside.

“It's been a long pre-season so I'm keen to get going. Our new strength and conditioning coach [Johan Pretorious] has put us through our paces and we're all in a better place for it.

“There's a really positive mood in camp and Munster away will be a good test. I've never played at Thomond Park before so I'm really looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, despite stiff competition, the starting scrum-half spot has been secured by Stirling-born 23-year-old, Sean Kennedy, also a product of Scotland age-grade squads.

“I've been training away hard all summer with Grayson [Hart], Sammy [Hidalgo-Clyne] and the two young boys, Alex Glashan and Hugh Fraser. I wouldn't say I was first choice but maybe the coaches saw I could bring something to this game,” said Kennedy.

“Having that competition brings out the best in all of us which is a good thing for everyone.

“I grew up in Limerick for the first ten years of my life, supported Munster and rugby was everything – so I have plenty of family and friends coming to support the game tomorrow!”

Meanwhile, Ireland's Simon Zebo makes a return to Munster action on Friday and he is joined by Emerging Ireland duo Andrew Conway and Ian Keatley in the starting XV, while their touring colleagues Dave Foley and Tommy O'Donnell are named in the replacements.

In making their competitive Munster debuts at Thomond Park, hooker Kevin O'Byrne, back-row Shane Buckley and centre Andrew Smith all start.

Foley has made six changes to the side that lined out against London Irish in Waterford last week with BJ Botha returning to the front-row while Shane Buckley takes the place of Robin Copeland at number eight.

Johne Murphy, Andrew Smith and Ronan O'Mahony retain their places in the backline but make the positional switches with Smith and Murphy linking up in the centre partnership while O'Mahony moves to full-back.

Form: Munster's only defeat in round 1 of the Guinness PRO12 since 2006 came on a trip to Glasgow in 2009. The Irishmen have been defeated in their last two matches at Thomond Park but have never lost three in succession at the venue in the professional era. Edinburgh Rugby's only victory on the opening weekend of PRO12 play since 2005 came when they visited Cardiff Blues at Cardiff City Stadium in 2009 and won 22-21. Edinburgh have lost their last five matches in the competition since beating the Dragons at Rodney Parade on 3rd April. The Scotsmen's only victory in Ireland in their last 23 visits in all competitions since 2009 was 24-23 at Connacht in the PRO12 on 1st December 2012. This is the third successive season that the two sides have met in round 1, whilst Edinburgh have not beaten the Munstermen in this tournament since their encounter at BT Murrayfield on 30th September 2011.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Ronan O'Mahony, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Johne Murphy, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Shane Buckley, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan (capt), 3 BJ Botha, 2 Kevin O'Byrne, 1 John Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 Alan Cotter, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 Johnny Holland, 23 Ivan Dineen.

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Tomas Leonardi, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 John Andress, 2 Ross Ford (capt), 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 WP Nel, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Mike Coman, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Nick McLennan, 23 Phil Burleigh.

Date: Friday, September 5
Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Venue: Thomond Park
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Nigel Correll (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)
Television match official: Jude Quinn (Ireland)