Planet Rugby

Preview: Munster v Dragons

25th September 2009 10:50

Share:

Jean de Villiers training hat

Benched: Jean de Villiers

Munster have named new marquee signing Jean de Villiers on the bench for Sunday's home fixture against the Dragons at Musgrave Park.

Head Coach Tony McGahan has however opted to push Donncha O'Callaghan back into first-team action, with the British & Irish Lions second-row starting alongside Mick O'Driscoll for his Magners League 2009/10 season debut.

Fellow Lion Ronan O'Gara is also named in the starting XV for the first time this term as is the promising Keith Earls for the sold-out clash.

Earls has been named at full-back in place of new signing Felix Jones, who moves to the wing, with Denis Hurley on the other flank midfield pairing of Barry Murphy and Lifeimi Mafi.

Paul O'Connell who had been named in the original squad was not considered due to a slight hamstring problem.

The injury that Niall Ronan suffered in the Scarlets game and the continued absence of David Wallace means Tommy O'Donnell gets to wear the number seven jersey while Nick Williams returns from a knee injury to anchor the scrum.

"I can't wait to get back into it. I'm not use watching games. I just love to be playing." said O'Callaghan, speaking to the province's website.

"I understand the thinking in keeping us [Ireland internationals] out of it for the opening rounds. And it works to our benefit.

"It's a long season what with internationals and that but still I'd be in there from the start if I could."

Meanwhile, Dragons centre Ashley Smith is to captain the Men of Gwent for the second time this season. The 22 year old has also signed a 3-year extension with the region, keeping him at Rodney Parade until 2013.

Smith, who was a graduate of the Dragons Academy, has been with the region since 2005, making his debut in a friendly against Worcester Warriors. At 22 he has played 58 matches for the Dragons and represented Wales at every age-grade level.

"I'm very proud to be captaining the Dragons again this weekend," he said.

"I'm a local boy and I have had great opportunities with the region. There is a real buzz around Rodney Parade this season and it's a good place to be. It's always an honour to represent your local side and having come through the age-grade and academy setups, I'm confident that my future lies with the Dragons.

"Munster are always going to be a massive challenge. They have a formidable side and with the return of their Irish internationals and of course the debut of Jean de Villiers, they have an impressive team sheet for Sunday's game, but we are all playing for each other and that counts for a lot."

Form: Munster have won their last five encounters with the Dragons, whilst the Dragons' only win on Munster soil was 16-6 at Thomond Park on their first ever visit on 12 March 2004. Defending Magners League champions Munster have won three of their last four games in the competition. The Munstermen have won their last eight home games in all competitions including four in a row at Musgrave Park. Munster have lost just one of their last 13 games against Welsh opponents in all competitions: 12-20 at Cardiff Blues on 10 May. The Dragons have won three of their last four games in the Magners League, but have lost five in a row away from home in the competition. The Dragons' only win in Ireland since October 2004 was 16-14 at Ulster on 19 September 2008.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Keith Earls, 14 Felix Jones, 13 Barry Murphy, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Denis Hurley, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Nick Williams. 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Alan Quinlan, 5 Donncha O'Callaghan, 4 Mick O'Driscoll, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Denis Fogarty, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Damian Varley, 17 Julien Brugnaut, 18 Donnacha Ryan, 19 James Coughlan, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Jeremy Manning, 22 Jean de Villiers.

Dragons: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Aled Brew, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Ashley Smith (c), 11 Richard Fussell, 10 James Arlidge, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 James Harris, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Nigel Hall, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Hugh Gustafson.
Replacements: 16 Duane Goodfield, 17 Ali McKenzie, 18 Gethin Robinson, 19 Grant Webb, 20 Hoani MacDonald, 21 Shaun Connor, 22 Danny Lee.

Date: Sunday, September 27
Kick-off: 17:05 BST
Venue: Musgrave Park
Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Assistant Referees: J Carvill (IRFU), D Connolly (IRFU)
TMO: Brian Fitzgerald (IRFU)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale13:00
Castres vs Leinster15:15
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles19:45
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs London Irish18:30
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Brive vs Zebre19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade FrancaisTBC
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
Newcastle 43 - 19 Bucuresti
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615