Preview: Munster v Leinster

04th Oct 2013, 14:03

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Irish derby: Munster v Leinster

Irish derby: Munster v Leinster

Lote Tuqiri will start at outside centre for Leinster in Saturday's Irish derby against Munster at Thomond Park.

Lote Tuqiri will start at outside centre for Leinster in Saturday's Irish derby against Munster at Thomond Park.

Former Wallaby Tuqiri starts alongside Gordon D'Arcy in a new-look midfield. Brian O'Driscoll picked up a minor calf strain in training this week and will be assessed by the medical team over the coming days regarding his availability for next week's opening Heineken Cup clash away to the Ospreys.

Jamie Heaslip will lead the squad for the 15th time for the trip to Limerick on what will be his 168th appearance for the province. The Naas man is named in a back-row which includes fellow Ireland international Kevin McLaughlin and the returning Sean O'Brien.

Mike McCarthy locks down alongside Devin Toner in an all-Ireland qualified pack, with Cian Healy named in the front-row alongside Sean Cronin and Mike Ross. Ian Madigan starts at fly-half and will make his 85th appearance.

Luke Fitzgerald is named on the bench having been side-lined since the opening round victory over the Scarlets. Dominic Ryan's next appearance will be his 50th in Leinster colours.

In bad news for Leinster fans last year's Young Player of the Year Jordi Murphy has undergone a procedure on an ankle injury and will be out for a number of weeks.

Meanwhile, Felix Jones and Paul O'Connell, who both returned to Munster action last weekend against Dragons make their first start of the season.

Further positive news sees the return of BJ Botha and Conor Murray who are both named in the replacements.

Botha, who sustained a knee injury in Munster's pre-season game against London Irish, has displayed great commitment to the rehab programme set out by Munster's medical staff in getting match ready for the round five fixture.

Head Coach Rob Penney has opted to start with Jones at full-back on Saturday with Keith Earls switching to the wing as Casey Laulala and James Downey resume their centre partnership.

With the return of Conor Murray, Cathal Sheridan misses out this week with Duncan Williams starting alongside Ian Keatley in the half-backs.

On making his first start of the season Paul O'Connell joins Donnacha Ryan in the second row pairing.

Form: Munster's solo loss in their last five RaboDirect PRO12 contests came in round 3 in Treviso. The Munstermen have suffered just one reversal at Thomond Park in any competition since April 2012: 16-22 to Leinster in this equivalent fixture last season. Leinster's only defeat in their last dozen matches in all tournaments was 6-12 at table topping Glasgow on 20th September. The Leinstermen have won four of their last six away games against fellow Irish provinces. Munster have been defeated in their last four fixtures against Leinster since Munster took the 2011 Grand Final in Limerick. Leinster are going for a third successive victory on Munster soil for the first time since 1971.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Peter O'Mahony (c), 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilycoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 James Cronin, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Conor Murray, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Denis Hurley.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Lote Tuqiri, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Mike McCarthy, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Rhys Ruddock, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Luke Fitzgerald.

Date: Saturday, October 5
Venue: Thomond Park, Limerick
Kick-off: 18.45 local (17.45 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (FFR),