Penney makes five changes
Munster’s realistic pursuit of a top four place in the RaboDirect Pro 12 league will be defined by the outcome of tonight’s match in Limerick.
Rob Penney conceded as much when he ventured that the Irish province would “probably have to win all their remaining games if we’re to qualify for the playoffs.”
He’ll be expecting a positive reaction from the players after castigating the team – his criticism didn’t target specific individuals by name – following their abject performance in losing to Benetton Treviso last weekend.
There are five changes to the team with Irish squad players Ronan O’Gara and Dave Kilcoyne returning. Captain Doug Howlett is back on the right wing while Garryowen’s Cathal Sheridan gets a chance to start at scrumhalf. It’s Damien Varley’s turn to wear the number two jersey with club-mate and last week’s skipper, Mike Sherry, dropping to the bench.
On a tangential note Ireland coach Declan Kidney is the principal arbiter on the relevance of O’Gara’s performance tonight in terms of the national squad and the upcoming Six Nations game against France. Munster’s preoccupation though is to find a way past a team that has beaten them on the last four occasions the sides have met.
The Welsh franchise has lost only once in their last seven league matches, a 22-10 defeat to Connacht at the Sportsground in a game that cost them the services of two players for tonight, Joe Bearman and Ross Jones, both of whom are suspended.
Penney admitted: “I haven’t seen Ospreys play badly. They’ve been there or thereabouts every match they’ve played . . . There are very few games where a team has gotten got away on them. They’ll be tough, buoyed by the confidence they got from beating us over there.”
The Munster backline has plenty of experience but it’s how their young pack fare that will go a long way to determining the outcome.