O’Connell to start against Toulon

Paul O’Connell will start for Munster in Sunday’s crunch Heineken Cup game against Toulon at the Stade Félix Mayol (kick-off 4pm).

Paul O’Connell will start for Munster in Sunday’s crunch Heineken Cup game against Toulon at the Stade Félix Mayol (kick-off 4pm).

The former Lions skipper has only just returned from a four-week ban that he received after the round three game against the Ospreys at Thomond Park for allegedly striking number eight Jonathan Thomas in an off-the-ball incident.

O’Connell’s inclusion means Mick O’Driscoll, who has performed admirably for the duration of the season, drops to the bench. Paul Warwick starts at full back and is flanked by Doug Howlett and Johne Murphy on the wings while Sam Tuitupou will start alongside Keith Earls in the centre.

Peter Stringer has been given the nod ahead of Tomás O’Leary at half back and will partner Ronan O’Gara with John Hayes being preferred to Tony Buckley at tight-head.

Meanwhile, former All Black tight-head Carl Hayman has been named in Toulon’s matchday squad and looks a certainty to start against Munster whose problems at scrum time have been well documented this season.

Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, S Tuitupou, J Murphy; R O'Gara, P Stringer; W du Preez, D Varley, J Hayes; D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell; J Coughlan, D Wallace, D Leamy capt.

Replacements: M Sherry, D Hurley, T Buckley, M O'Driscoll, D Ryan, N Ronan, T O'Leary, L Mafi.

Toulon (squad): Forwards: S Bruno, K Chesney, J El Abd, L Emmanuellli, J-M Fernandez Lobbe, C Hayman, D Kubriashvili, M Merabet, J-C Orioli, C Samson, D Schofield, G Smith, S Taumoepeau, J Van Niekerk. Backs: F Auelua, F Contepomi, R Lamont, B Lapeyre, C Loamanu, G Lovobalavu, L Magnaval, G Messina, P Mignoni, P Sackey, J Wilkinson, R Wulf.

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