Hanrahan fit enough to make Munster bench

Bryan Habana to start for Toulon in the Heineken Cup semi-final in Marseilles on Sunday

Munster's JJ Hanrahan has made a miraculous recovery from a torn groin to take his place among the replacements for the Irish province's Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon at the Stade Velodrome in Marseilles on Sunday (3.30, Irish time, live on Sky Sports).

The consensus was that Hanrahan wouldn't make it, even though he had returned to running during the week, and that scrumhalf Conor Murray would have to double up as back-up outhalf to Ian Keatley but that's no longer the case as the Kerryman has won his race to be fit.

Munster coach Rob Penney hasn't been able to include Irish international secondrow Donnacha Ryan, who has suffered, an injury ravaged season. Dave Foley continues in the engine room alongside Paul O'Connell with Donncha O'Callaghan on the bench.

Scottish born, Ireland underage international Sean Dougall, has won the race for the number seven shirt ahead of Tommy O'Donnell and joins CJ Stander - he starts instead of injured captain Peter O'Mahony - and James Coughlan in the backrow.


Damien Varley will captain the team in O'Mahony's absence. James Cronin returns to the match day squad having reciovered from an ankle strain. There are only two changes, both in the backrow, to the team that hammered Toulouse in the previous round.

Toulon's director of rugby Bernard Laporte has promoted Springbok flyer Bryan Habana to the starting line-up in the only alteration behind the scrum from the side that beat Leinster in the quarter-final. He is preferred to New Zealander David Smith who drops to the bench. The pack is the exact same that started the last day.

South African Bakkies Botha and former All Black Ali Williams are both still missing through injury as is English loosehead prop Andrew Sheridan.

Munster: F Jones; K Earls, C Laulala, J Downey, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, D Varley (capt), BJ Botha; D Foley, P O’Connell; CJ Stander, S Dougall, J Coughlan. Replacements: D Casey, J Cronin, J Ryan, D O’Callaghan, T O’Donnell, D Williams, JJ Hanrahan, D Hurley.

Toulon: D Armitage; D Mitchell, M Bastareaud, M Giteau, B Habana; J Wilkinson (capt), S Tillous Borde; X Chiocci, C Burden, C Hayman; J Suta, D Rossouw; J Smith, J Fernandez Lobbe, S Armitage. Replacements: JC Orioli, A Menini, M Castrogiovanni, V Bruni, D Smith, M Mermoz, M Claassens, K Mikautadze.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England).

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer