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Monday 19 February 2018

Munster young guns keen to extend run as McGahan shuffles pack

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

TOP dogs Munster put their unbeaten record on the line at Murrayfield tonight as Michael Bradley gets a chance to sink his teeth into his native province,

The champions may be down their World Cup numbers, but the young guns are showing their promise during events in New Zealand.

Tony McGahan makes 10 changes to the team that beat Cardiff in Wales last weekend but will be hoping a new-look line-up can get the same result in Scotland.

Peter O'Mahony, who captained the team in recent weeks, drops to the bench as Tommy O'Donnell and Niall Ronan start in the back-row alongside highly rated No 8 Paddy Butler, who replaces James Coughlan -- sidelined with a neck injury.

Doug Howlett takes a break, with Johne Murphy taking the right wing berth and Scott Deasy starting at full-back.

Tom Gleeson, Peter Stringer, Denis Fogarty, John Hayes and Dave Foley start after coming off the bench last week as McGahan looks to keep things fresh.

Young second-row Foley lines out alongside Mick O'Driscoll, who makes his 192nd appearance for his province this evening.

Impression

Ian Nagle has made a huge impression in recent weeks, but Foley is hoping to make his mark against the Scots, who have struggled so far this season. And with O'Driscoll alongside him, he has plenty of experience to draw on.

"Micko is a massive influence. Not just for me, for all around him," said Foley. "You can learn a huge amount from him. It is great at this stage of a fellah's career to be paired with him. He really is a huge figure for us."

The young guns know that they have to make the most of this huge opportunity and Clanwilliam flanker O'Donnell wants to impress and help the team continue their run.

"Coming into this season, I knew that, with the World Cup, I'd get the chance to get a few games. There's still a lot of quality in the back-row so it was a matter of putting in a good pre-season and getting a run at it and seeing where that gets me," he said.

"We've enjoyed a good run. Four games gone, two to go in this phase, top of the league, it's exactly where you want to be. Obviously the defensive effort last week was massive. A few lucky breaks like that forward pass and some good defence."

Verdict: Munster

EDINBURGH -- J Thompson; L Jones, M Scott, J King, T Visser; G Hunter, G Laidlaw; K Traynor, S Lawrie, L Niven; G Gilchrist, S Cox; D Denton, R Grant, S McInally. Reps: A Walker, R Hislop, S Knight, E Lozada, H Watson, C Leck, P Godman, T Brown.

MUNSTER -- S Deasy; J Murphy, T Gleeson, L Mafi, D Hurley; I Keatley, P Stringer; W du Preez, D Fogarty, J Hayes; D Foley, M O'Driscoll; T O'Donnell, N Ronan, P Butler. Reps: M Sherry, J Ryan, S Archer, I Nagle, P O'Mahony, D Williams, D Barnes, S Zebo.

REF -- L Hodges (WRU).

Irish Independent

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