Friday 20 April 2018

Van Den Heever handed debut as Paul O'Connell starts for Munster

Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell

South African import Gerhard van den Heever will make his Munster debut against the Newport-Gwent Dragons tomorrow evening with Paul O'Connell also among the starting XV for Rob Penney's league leaders.

It will only be O'Connell's second start of the season for Munster in the Rabodirect Pro12.

Keith Earls, James Downey and Ian Keatley return from injury to take their place in the team.

Rob Penney has made 12 changes in total for the trip to Rodney Parade with Felix Jones the only survivor from the back division that beat the Cardiff Blues 31-10 last weekend while Billy Holland, who captains the side tomorrow, and CJ Stander are the only players to keep their places in the pack.

In making 12 changes to a side that performed so impressively last weekend against Cardiff, Rob Penney has given his players a chance to impress ahead of the crucial Heineken Cup double-header against Perpignan.

“There are some players getting an opportunity this week that will need to play well to force their hand in terms of ERC selection,” said the New Zealander.

“It’s exciting because the other guys have done their job and when you’re growing in depth and guys are getting rotated in, then they’ve got to perform well when they get their opportunity.”

Munster team to face the Dragons: (15-9) Felix Jones; Gerhard van den Heever, Keith Earls, James Downey, Denis Hurley; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; (1-8) Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer; Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell; Billy Holland (Capt.), CJ Stander, James Coughlan.

Replacements: (16-23) Damien Varley, James Cronin, BJ Botha, Ian Nagle, Barry O'Mahony, Cathal Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan, Ivan Dineen

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