Williams chosen to lead Munster


RUGBY: Jim Williams will lead Munster for the first time in their opening pre-season friendly against the Bristol Shoguns next Tuesday, having been elected captain by the Munster players on Thursday night.

The World Cup-winning Wallaby and former ACT Brumbies number eight, something of a surprise selection ahead of Anthony Foley, said: "It's a great honour and I'm deeply appreciative that the guys saw fit to make me captain."

A half-dozen players threw their hat in the ring to succeed Mick Galwey, who had long since announced his intention to stand down this season, the others being Frankie Sheahan, Rob Henderson, Mike Mullins and Dominic Crotty. Williams just edged out Foley, who has been selected vice-captain. It was felt that Williams' availability for all Munster's training sessions, pre-season friendlies and Celtic League matches stood to him whereas the other candidates would have international commitments.

Foley conceded there was some merit in that line of thinking after confirming that it was the tightest of votes. "It always going to be a tough act to follow Mick Galwey and Jim deserves and needs all our support," he said.

Williams' appointment intensifies the Australian influence, given his compatriot Alan Gaffney has succeeded Declan Kidney as coach. Gaffney has named a 25-strong squad from which the side will be selected for Tuesday's warm-up against Bristol at Thomond Park (7pm). The squad includes a number of non-contracted players brought in by Gaffney because of injuries.

MUNSTER (squad): D Crotty, T Cregan, J Lacey, M Lawlor, M Mullins, K Keane, J Staunton, M Prendergast, D Malone, P Brennan, F Roche, J Blaney, J Fogarty, R Laffen, T Buckley, R McKinney, M Galwey, D O'Callaghan, T Hogan, P Malone, C McMahon, E Halvey, D Bowles, U O'Callaghan, J Williams.