Preview: Munster v Perpignan

06th Dec 2013, 13:18

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Starting scrum-half: Conor Murray

Starting scrum-half: Conor Murray

Munster head coach Rob Penney has named a strong side for the Heineken Cup clash against Perpignan at Thomond Park on Sunday.

Munster head coach Rob Penney has named a strong starting XV for the Heineken Cup clash against Perpignan at Thomond Park on Sunday.

Captain Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray are both included in the side for the first time since October.

Penney has made six changes to the side that extended Munster's winning run to five games last weekend against Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

There are three changes in the backs with Murray coming in at scrum-half to partner last week's man of the match Ian Keatley.

Casey Laulala returns to the side and lines up alongside James Downey in the centre positions.

Laulala's inclusion means that Keith Earls moves out to the right wing with Johne Murphy coming into the side on the left wing and Felix Jones keeping his place at full-back.

Damien Varley is the only change in the front row as the hooker replaces the injured Mike Sherry with Irish internationals Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer keeping their places in the side.

The second-row of Donncha O'Callaghan and Paul O'Connell remains the same but there are two changes in the back row with Peter O'Mahony and Sean Dougall coming into the team.

James Coughlan starts at number eight after recovering from an eye injury sustained against Newport Gwent Dragons last weekend.

Billy Holland is named on the bench for the first time in this season's Heineken Cup alongside Shannon hooker Duncan Casey who could make his competitive debut for the province.

Munster currently lie second in Pool 6 of the Heineken Cup, a point behind Perpignan.

Meanwhile, Wales back James Hook returns for Perpignan to skipper the visitors at Thomond Park from the full-back position.

Fellow Welsh international Luke Charteris lines up in the second-row with Scot Al Strokosch named on the blindside flank.

The exciting Sofiane Guitoune starts on the left wing with powerful Fijian Watisoni Votu at inside centre.

Second-row Sebastien Vahaamahina, leaving for Clermont at the end of the season, is named among the replacements.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Peter O'Mahony (c), 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 James Cronin, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Denis Hurley

Perpignan: 15 James Hook (c), 14 Joffrey Michel, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Watisoni Votu, 11 Sofiane Guitoune, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Tom Ecochard, 8 Justin Purll, 7 Al Strokosch, 6 Jean-Pierre Perez, 5 Guillaume Vilaceca, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Romain Terrain, 1 Sébastien Taofifenua
Replacements: 16 Maxime Delonca, 17 Kisi Pulu, 18 Jean Baptiste Custoja, 19 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Tommy Allan, 22 Richard Haughton, 23 Dan Leo

Date: Sunday 8th December
Venue: Thomond Park
Kick-off: 1245 (local and GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Stuart Terheege (both England)
TMO: Sean Davey