Mixture of youth and experience in Munster team to take on Northampton

Munster Rugby Academy graduates, Danny Barnes, Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony, will make their Heineken Cup starts against Northampton Saints in Thomond Park Stadium tomorrow evening (6pm).

Munster Rugby Academy graduates, Danny Barnes, Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony, will make their Heineken Cup starts against Northampton Saints in Thomond Park Stadium tomorrow evening (6pm).

Evidence of further development of young players comes in the form of 23-year-old Cork Constitution prop John Ryan, who featured in their Ulster Bank League game last weekend against Clontarf and comes onto the bench in place of the injured Marcus Horan (ankle).

The side shows five changes from the one that started against Leinster, two in the backline and three up front. Denis Hurley comes onto the wing in place of the injured Keith Earls (knee) while Barnes, a 2nd minute replacement for Earls against Leinster, retains the number 13 jersey ahead of Will Chambers who is named on the bench.

It's in the pack that the big calls have been made with Donncha O'Callaghan and Denis Leamy both relegated to the bench in favour of O'Mahony and James Coughlan, O'Callaghan giving way to Donnacha Ryan who moves up from the blindside flank he occupied against Leinster to partner Paul O'Connell in the second row.

Having kept his place in the side ahead of the likes of O’Callaghan and Leamy, Ryan knows that he will have to dig deep along with the rest of the team to beat last year’s defeated finalists.

“It’s a really serious challenge, a huge night and one when we'll really look to have the crowd behind us because we'll need them.

“They'd a great run last year, topped their Pool and got to the final. Maybe just ran out of steam in the second half.

“We have to play for 80 minutes, last week our discipline was poor as well and we were a bit sporadic in our performance So we're really going to have to concentrate on ourselves, on our own discipline and basically be as relentless as possible for 80 minutes."

Munster (v Northampton Saints): J Murphy; D Howlett, D Barnes, L Mafi, D Hurley; R O'Gara, C Murray; W du Preez, D Varley, BJ Botha; D Ryan, P O'Connell capt; P O'Mahony, N Ronan, J Coughlan. Replacements: D Fogarty, J Ryan, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, D Leamy, T O'Leary, I Keatley, W Chambers.

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