Warhorse O’Callaghan leads Munster into battle

Veterans Donncha O’Callaghan and BJ Botha provide the experience in an otherwise youthful side chosen by new Munster head coach Anthony Foley for tomorrow’s pre-season friendly against Gloucester at Kingsholm (3pm).

O’Callaghan captains the side from the second row, where he will pack down alongside Kerry youngster Sean McCarthy, a nephew of Donncha’s one-time teammate, Mick Galwey.

Young Munster’s Ger Slattery has the ideal opportunity to stake a claim for the hooker’s jersey with several players unavailable in this key position. He will benefit from Botha’s stature as one of the game’s great props at tight-head and his Young Munster colleague Alan Cotter at loose-head.

CJ Stander lines out at number eight while an interesting aspect of Foley’s selection is that it includes full-back Stephen Fitzgerald, wings Darren Sweetnam and Ronan O’Mahony and flanker Shane Buckley, all of whom distinguished themselves for Munster in the recent World Club 7s at Thomond Park. With James Downey and Casey Laulala having moved on, centre positions are up for grabs this season.

They fall on this occasion to Cian Bohane and Ivan Dineen, while Johnny Holland and Duncan Williams renew their Cork Constitution partnership at half-back.

Eleven replacements are making the journey and are likely to be given game time at some stage tomorrow.

MUNSTER (v Gloucester): Stephen Fitzgerald; Ronan O’Mahony, Cian Bohane, Ivan Dineen, Darren Sweetnam; Johnny Holland, Duncan Williams; Alan Cotter, Ger Slattery, BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan (capt), Sean McCarthy; Shane Buckley, Barry O’Mahony, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Niall Horan, Kevin O’Byrne, John Ryan, John Madigan, Ryan Murphy, Cathal Sheridan, David Johnston, Ned Hodson, Rory Scannell, Ryan Foley, Greg O’Shea.

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