Kidney gambles on Leamy at centre

 

Munster v Ospreys Musgrave Park, 6.0It's good to have them back at loggerheads, but the pity is that last season's leading lights in the Celtic League are meeting so soon. Both are missing their Lions, and while both may improve on last week's uninspiring opening round, their best games lie ahead.On TV: Setanta Sports

In accommodating his rich array of backrowers, and following on from last week's surprise selection of David Wallace on the wing, Declan Kidney has named his other openside, Denis Leamy, in the Munster midfield. It's a gamble for sure, but, the way Kidney explains it, there's a certain sense to it.

"David Wallace is a very good openside and he deserves a game there. So in those circumstances, it's better that Denis Leamy is on the pitch rather than off the pitch. He has certain skills for the position but he's played in the centre before, albeit at underage level."

With Anthony Horgan returning to the wing (and Frankie Sheahan at hooker), aside from reviving the old Quinlan-Foley-Wallace axis in the backrow, this selection also permits Kidney to have Stephen Keogh - the latest off the backrow conveyor belt - on the bench after two good performances, against Northampton, in pre-season, and the Borders.

Nevertheless, the Ospreys look slightly further down the track after their home games against Wasps and Leinster.

"Even though they weren't fantastic against Leinster, they applied a lot of pressure and the game they play is designed to put you under pressure in all areas of the pitch. That's what led to them scoring tries last week. They are a very good team and it's a cliche, but we're under no illusions."

For their part, the Ospreys are thin in the backrow department given Ryan Jones's well-deserved post-Lions rest, the departure of Nathan Bonner-Evans, and injuries to James Bater and Jonathon Thomas, but are expected to have Brent Cockbain back in their secondrow and Adam Jones on the bench.

They were heavily penalised at the breakdown last week, but their blitz defence and execution of their third try still scaled heights above those of Munster, who will have to raise their game significantly.

MUNSTER: S Payne; J Kelly, T Halstead, D Leamy, A Horgan; P Burke, P Stringer; M Horan, F Sheahan, F Pucciariello; T Hogan, M O'Driscoll; A Quinlan, D Wallace, A Foley (capt). Replacements: F Roche, J Flannery, J O'Sullivan, S Keogh, F Murphy, J Manning, R Henderson.

OSPREYS (from): S Terblanche, R Mustoe, S Parker, L Davies, J Vaughton, D Bishop, S Connor, J Spice, M Jones, R Rees, D Jones, B Williams (capt), A Jones, P James, H Bennett, A Millward, L Bateman, I Evans, B Cockbain, A Wyn-Jones, L Beach, S Tandy, A Lloyd.

Referee: David Changleng (SRU).

Head-to-head: (2003/'04) (CL) Ospreys 33 Munster 26; Munster 15 Ospreys 18 (2004/'05) (CL) Ospreys 34 Munster 17; (EC) Ospreys 18 Munster 20; (CL) Munster 13 Ospreys 9; (EC) Munster 20 Ospreys 10.

Forecast: Ospreys to win.

Michael Bradley has been reappointed to coach the Ireland A side this season for their outings against France (away), Scotland (home) and England (away), and will be assisted by the Ulster forwards coach Allen Clarke, with Joey Miles as manager.

Mark McDermott has also been reappointed as the Ireland under-21 coach with Niall O'Shea as manager.

The Ireland under-19 team will be managed by Keith Patten and coached by Charlie McAleese. He will be assisted by Bobby Byrne and former Ireland international Killian Keane.