O'Mahony 'honoured' to lead out Munster
PETER O'Mahony may not yet be a household name, but Tony McGahan thinks highly enough of the Cork Constitution flanker to have handed him the Munster captaincy while the big guns are away at the World Cup.
He will hope to mark his 22nd birthday tonight by leading his province to victory over the Scarlets and keeping up the Pro12 champions' 100pc record this season.
The Welsh side lost in Galway last weekend and their inexperienced line-up looks set to struggle against Munster, who have a blend of youth and experience.
And despite the presence of some seasoned internationals in the team, it was O'Mahony -- with just 10 starts to his name before the start of this season -- who was chosen to lead the men in red out.
"It is a huge honour," he said. "I have been a supporter since I was a baby, so it is a great honour. I think it adds to my game to have a bit of pressure and having to make decisions. Every minute you are on the pitch as captain you are looked up to. The Munster captain always leads from the front.
"But it's easy to do when you have guys like Mick O'Driscoll, James Coughlan, Peter Stringer and Doug Howlett.
"I don't have to make every decision with these guys. They have been there, done that. It is not as if they go quiet when I am captain."
McGahan has made five changes here, with Mike Sherry starting as hooker after Damien Varley's World Cup call-up. Danny Barnes has been ruled out with a hand injury, with Tom Gleeson starting, while Denis Hurley gets a run on the wing in place of Simon Zebo.
Up front Marcus Horan rotates with Wian du Preez, while Dave Foley makes his first start of the season as he comes in for Billy Holland.
For the visiting Scarlets, teenage full-back Dale Ford makes his debut and one suspects Ian Keatley will target the new boy from early on and Munster should have more than enough.
Verdict: Home win
Munster -- J Murphy; D Howlett, T Gleeson, L Mafi, D Hurley; I Keatley, P Stringer; M Horan, M Sherry, J Hayes; D Foley, M O'Driscoll; P O'Mahony (capt), N Ronan, J Coughlan. Reps: D Fogarty, W du Preez, BJ Botha, B Holland, T O'Donnell, D Williams, S Deasy, S Zebo.
Scarlets -- D Ford; L Williams, R Gomer Davies, G Maule, A Fenby; D Newton, R Tipuna; I Thomas (capt), K Myhill, R Thomas; L Reed, D Day; R McCusker, J Turnbull, B Morgan. Reps: E Phillips, P John, R Jones, A Shingler, J Edwards, G Davies, A Thomas, L Rees.
Ref -- A Macpherson (SRU).
Munster v Scarlets,
Live, TG4, 7.45