Wednesday 16 October 2019

O'Donnell to lead Munster charge

Munster and Ulster are in South Africa for the time being, mapping out a way to take at least eight points from the Southern Kings and Cheetahs. (stock photo)
Munster and Ulster are in South Africa for the time being, mapping out a way to take at least eight points from the Southern Kings and Cheetahs. (stock photo)

Des Berry

Munster and Ulster are in South Africa for the time being, mapping out a way to take at least eight points from the Southern Kings and Cheetahs.

Johann van Graan's men will take the first shot at the Kings in Nelson Mandela Bay this afternoon (3.0), the less taxing of the two assignments.

Tommy O'Donnell has been handed the captaincy, something the flanker has earned for all the heartache and suffering from serious injuries alone.

The athleticism of the veteran is what has always been his standout attribute and there are few finer sights in the Irish game than O'Donnell accelerating in behind enemy lines.

Van Graan makes four changes with prop Liam O'Connor and lock Darren O'Shea added to the pack, the excellent Alby Mathewson in at scrum-half and Dan Goggin in the midfield.

Australian Jed Holloway, a short-term signing, will make his first appearance form the bench.

The immediate impact and long-term influence of Stephen Larkham will be just about the most interesting subject in Irish rugby this season, outside of what is happening in Japan.

The magical mind of the Wallaby genius might just be what JJ Hanrahan needs at this point in his career.

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It wasn't that long ago that losing the Kerryman to Northampton Saints filled up the media pages. A career that has threatened much more than it has delivered could be revived while Joey Carbery is out of town.

For, 'mercurial' was Larkham's middle name. It remains to be seen how successful he can be in making a positive impact on a back division low on individual brilliance.

Right now, Munster just have to keep on trucking along, putting the wins side-by-side to be in the best possible position when the Ireland brigade arrive back to club duty.

They should have more than enough in store to take care of the Kings.

Verdict: Munster

SOUTHERN KINGS: M Banda; A Loubser, T Kruger, JT Jackson, C Winnaar; D Catrakilis, S Ungerer; J Schoeman, A van Rooyen, P Scholtz, J Sexton, A Fortuin, L Badiyana (capt), T Burger, R Lerm. Reps: J du Toit, A Tshakweni, R de Klerk, B de Wee, E Louw, J Allderman, S Sithole, J Twum-Boafo.

MUNSTER: M Haley; D Sweetnam, D Goggin, R Scannell, S Daly; JJ Hanrahan, A Mathewson; L O'Connor, K O'Byrne, S Archer, D O'Shea, F Wycherley, J O'Donoghue, T O'Donnell (capt), A Botha. Reps: D Barron, J Cronin, J Loughman, J Holloway, B Holland; N Cronin, T Bleyendaal, C Cloete.

Southern Kings v Munster,

Live, Eir Sport 1, 3.0

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