Preview: Racing Metro v Munster

12th Oct 2012, 16:01

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Power battle: Paul O'Connell v Jacques Cronje

Power battle: Paul O'Connell v Jacques Cronje

Munster travel to Paris to kick off their Heineken Cup campaign with a clash against Racing Metro at the Stade de France.

Munster travel to Paris to kick off their Heineken Cup campaign with a clash against Racing Metro at the Stade de France.

Munster reached the quarter-finals of last year's competition, only to be beaten by Irish rivals Ulster at Thomond Park.

The big news is the return of veteran lock Paul O'Connell, who has been named in Munster's starting XV. O'Connell will be making his first appearance for the Irish province since early May. He will be joined in the second row by Billy Holland after Donncha O'Callaghan was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Elsewhere in the pack, Dave Kilcoyne retains the number 1 jersey in the absence of Wian du Preez who sustained a knee injury against Leinster and Donnacha Ryan's experience was a probable factor in him getting the blind-side berth ahead of Dave O'Callaghan who is named on the bench.

The one unforced change in the backline sees Ian Keatley in at full-back instead of Denis Hurley, who is named on the bench.

Meanwhile, former Bath fly-half Olly Barkley makes his first start for Racing after coming off the bench in the Top 14 last week.

Mirco Bergamasco returns to the starting XV at outside centre while fellow Italy international Andrea Lo Cicero is added to the front-row.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Racing Metro: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Julien Jane, 13 Mirco Bergamasco, 12 Fabrice Estebanez, 11 Julien Saubade, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Masinivanua Matadigo, 7 Jacques Cronje, 6 Antoine Battut, 5 Francois Van der merwe, 4 Karim Ghezal, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero .
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Eddy Ben Arous , 18 Benjamin Sa, 19 Fabrice Metz, 20 Bernard le Roux, Sebastien Descons, 21 Camille Gerondeau, 22 Sebastien Descons, 23 Virimi Vakatawa.

Munster: 15 Ian Keatley, 14 Doug Howlett (c), 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Peter O'Mahony. 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Billy Holland, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Mick Sherry, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Dave O'Callaghan, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Danny Barnes, 23 Denis Hurley.

Date: Saturday, October 13
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 14:35 (13.35 BST/12:35 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner