Conway out to nail down Munster starting spot


Conway out  to   nail  down  Munster starting spot

Conway recovered from a dead leg sustained in the pre-season friendly against Gloucester and is named in a side that also includes JJ Hanrahan and Cathal Sheridan at half-back. Damian Varley will captain the side while Donncha Ryan makes his first appearance of the season alongside Ian Nagle in the second row.

The selection of CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell and Paddy Butler in a new-look back row from the team that defeated Edinburgh highlights the competition for places both in the team and squad. The availability of James Downey after injury leaves him with an opportunity for game time off the bench, but Ivan Dineen gets another start and a chance to push for a Heineken Cup squad place.

Dineen is conscious of the battle for places but is looking forward following two quality 80-minute performances this season after recovering from a troublesome hip problem.

“It has been a good start for me,” he said. “It’s the first season I have been completely injury free in terms of doing a whole pre-season not being injured with my knees or my hip, so it has been a good start against Gloucester and Edinburgh.”

Dineen is taking nothing for granted though, given his track record of being in and out of the Munster squad.

“It’s also probably the toughest season for positions, across all the squad, there are four or five good centres there, the standards are good everywhere. I’m hoping to kick on but the competition is tough.

“I can even see from 12 months ago to now the standard of even how we pass the ball and how we move and play, the game we play has gone up hugely and there is no option but to be that good.

“Against Edinburgh I think there was only one ball or two maximum that hit the ground. That’s the standard they had to be at but it was outstanding. I know that Felix [Jones], Simon [Zebo] and Keith [Earls] will come back and get their chances but they’ll have to play excellently following those early performances.

“If you don’t perform the 80 minutes you might have to wait another two weeks to get a shot and it might be too late. It has got everyone concentrating on the fact that each 80 minutes you play you have got to be playing at 100%.

“It cranks up the pressure in terms of selection because there is a lot of quality around, especially in the second and back rows and the back three and only so many can go into the HC squad.”

MUNSTER: D Hurley; J Murphy, C Laulala, I Dineen, A Conway; JJ Hanrahan, C Sheridan; D Kilcoyne, D Varley (capt), J Ryan; D Ryan, I Nagle; CJ Stander, T O’Donnell, P Butler.

Replacements: M Sherry, J Cronin, S Archer, D Foley, N Ronan, D Williams, I Keatley, J Downey.

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