Paul O’Connell to line out for Munster against Zebre

Tommy Bowe and Paddy Jackson make first starts for Ulster away to Cardiff

 Paul O’Connell plays against Zebre tomorrow night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Paul O’Connell plays against Zebre tomorrow night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell will play his first competitive game for Munster this season in their Guinness Pro12 clash with Zebre at Thomond Park tomorrow night.

O’Connell was a late withdrawal from last week’s trip to Italy where the Irish province beat their hosts Benetton Treviso.

The secondrow is one of a number of senior and international players that will bolster Munster with scrumhalf Conor Murray, Denis Hurley, who plays in the centre, and Paddy Butler named in the starting team.

Prop Dave Kilcoyne and outhalf cum centre JJ Hanrahan are included in the replacements. Felix Jones retains the captain’s armband.

BJ Botha comes into the frontrow at tighthead with James Cronin and hooker Duncan Casey remaining in situ as does Billy Holland in the secondrow. In the back row, Butler makes his first appearance of the season at blindside flanker.

Murray is joined by Johnny Holland at halfback. A product of the Greencore Munster Academy, Holland began a senior development contract at the start of this season and will make his first competitive start for Munster tomorrow night. Ronan O’Mahony is named on the right wing in place of Andrew Conway.

Ulster welcome back Irish international duo Tommy Bowe and Paddy Jackson for their first starts of the season away to the the Cardiff Blues at The Arms Park on Friday (7.35pm).

They are among five changes to the side that beat Zebre 33-13 in Belfast last weekend.

Louis Ludik, who started last week’s game on the bench, is selected at fullback, and is joined in the back three by Bowe, who is named on the left wing.

Stuart Olding returns to the starting XV at inside centre, while Darren Cave has recovered from the rib injury that he sustained against Zebre to take his place at outside centre.

Jackson will play his 65th game for Ulster and is partnered by Paul Marshall at halfback.

Up front there is an unchanged front row with Andrew Warwick and Wiehahn Herbst starting either side of captain Rory Best.

Franco van der Merwe returns to the secondrow and starts alongside Dan Tuohy.

The back row all started against Zebre, with Robbie Diack selected at blindside, Chris Henry named at openside and Nick Williams picked at No 8.

MUNSTER (v Zebre, Thomond Park, Friday, 7.30pm): F Jones (capt); R O’Mahony, A Smith, D Hurley, S Zebo; J Holland, C Murray; J Cronin, D Casey, BJ Botha; B Holland, P O’Connell; P Butler, T O’Donnell, R Copeland.

Replacements: K O’Byrne, D Kilcoyne, J Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, S Dougall, D Williams, JJ Hanrahan, J Murphy.

ULSTER (v Cardiff Blues, Cardiff Arms Park, Friday, 7.35pm): L Ludik; A Trimble, D Cave, S Olding, T Bowe; P Jackson, P Marshall; A Warwick, R Best (capt), W Herbst; D Tuohy, F van der Merwe; R Diack, C Henry, N Williams.

Replacements: R Herring, C Black, B Ross, N McComb, R Wilson, M Heaney, I Humphreys, C Gilroy.

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