Munster big guns to lead assault on fortress Edinburgh

Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Donnacha Ryan return to starting positions

Munster coach Anthony Foley is able to call upon a number of Ireland internationals as they make their first appearance of the season for the province in Saturday's trip to take on Edinburgh at Murrayfield (5.15).

Conor Murray returns at scrumhalf while Donnacha Ryan partners Dave Foley in the secondrow, two of eight changes from the side that beat Ulster last time out. Keith Earls forms a new midfield axis with Francis Saili; the 23-year-old has made a significant impression on his teammates with the quality of his performances.

Simon Zebo moves to fullback to accommodate Ronan O'Mahony while there is an entirely new frontrow in Dave Kilcoyne, Duncan Casey and John Ryan. Uruguayan prop Mario Sagario is in line to make his Munster debut from the bench.

Dave O'Callaghan comes in at flanker with CJ Stander reverting to number eight. Munster confirmed that captain, Peter O'Mahony, who suffered knee ligament damage during the World Cup, is due to have surgery within the next fortnight.


Backs' coach Brian Walsh said: "You look at all the games that Edinburgh have played and not too many teams have scored a lot of points against them.They have a real miserly defence, they're very good at the breakdown, very sticky and physical in the way they defend.

‘Different game’

“I’m not saying it is going to be a dour battle but it will be a completely different game again this weekend.”

Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons welcomes back four Scotland internationals into his line-up, with Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and WP Nel all coming into the frontrow. Matt Scott also returns at centre alongside Will Helu, who moves in from the wing to replace the injured Sam Beard.

The Scottish side have beaten Leinster, Ulster and the Ospreys at tonight's venue but after winning their opening four matches in the tournament, they have lost their last two games, both away from home, to Zebre and Connacht.

Munster's only defeat of the season was to the Scarlets and they'll be hoping to maintain that impressive form ahead of their opening match in the Champions Cup against Benetton Treviso next weekend. The presence of Murray, Earls and Ryan in a group that has been playing well should facilitate that desire.

EDINBURGH: B Kinghorn; D Hoyland, W Helu, M Scott, T Brown; G Tonks, S Hidalgo-Clyne; A Dickinson, R Ford, WP Nel; A Bresler, A Toolis; M Coman (capt), H Watson, C du Preez.

Replacements: N Cochrane), R Sutherland, J Andress, R Grant, N Manu, S Kennedy, A Strauss, D Fife. MUNSTER: S Zebo; G van den Heever, K Earls, F Saili, R O'Mahony; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, D Casey, J Ryan; D Ryan, D Foley; D O'Callaghan, J O'Donoghue, CJ Stander (capt).

Replacements: N Scannell, J Cronin, M Sagario, R Copeland, J Coghlan, T O'Leary, R Scannell, D Hurley. Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland).

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer