Hayes and Horan return for Munster's Italian job
Marcus Horan and John Hayes are both welcomed back into Munster's extended squad for Saturday's Magners League opener against Italian newcomers Aironi at Musgrave Park.
With 23-man squads now in operation, it seems likely that both players will feature from the bench as Tony McGahan continues to integrate his front-line internationals back into the fold. Denis Hurley is also poised for his first action of the season, while Simon Zebo, Stephen Archer and Ivan Dineen all drop down.
In the continued absence of Keith Earls, Munster look short on centre cover with Lifeimi Mafi and Barry Murphy also unavailable. Mafi is recovering from a shoulder operation during the summer and will not be available for another two weeks, while Murphy's unfortunate string of injuries continues to halt his progress -- a damaged nerve in his leg the latest source of disruption.
It seems almost certain that new signing Johne Murphy will once again be asked to deputise in midfield after his impressive debut against Gloucester last week.
"I really enjoyed it," said the Kildare man when asked to reflect on a rare starting berth at centre. "Defence actually went okay for me -- I had been a bit worried about that during the week. And attack-wise I managed to get my hands on the ball a lot, which I enjoyed."
Murphy, it seems, is adapting well to his new club after five highly successful seasons with the Leicester Tigers. He made close to 100 starts during his time in the English Premiership and was the club's top scorer two seasons ago.
He was offered a two-year extension on his contract to take him up until 2012 but the lure of a return home eventually proved too strong. "I got offered to stay but I felt that if I stayed it would have been seven years," Murphy said. "I know I'm only 25, but I'm looking towards my life after rugby and I want it to be in Ireland."
Squad in factfile