Munster sweat on Warwick fitness

MUNSTER are hopeful Paul Warwick will be available to take his place at out-half when they begin their defence of the Magners League against Glasgow at Firhill on Friday night, (8pm Setanta Sport).

Warwick hobbled off with a foot injury early in last Friday’s game against Leicester Tigers and remains a worry, according to team manager Shaun Payne. The Australian has done some limited training but if he doesn’t make it, then Jeremy Manning, the only other out-half in a 25-man strong squad announced yesterday, will wear the number 10 jersey.

Although Munster will remain without their elite players until the beginning of October, the battle for places against the Scots is certain to be extremely keen.

Peter Stringer and the New Zealander Toby Morland are the scrum-halves in the squad with the Munster management facing a decision how best to use the latter’s talents. He probably wouldn’t be here at all were it not for the injury to Tomás O’Leary along with the injuries afflicting the luckless Duncan Williams.

Morland, who is on a five-month contract, has been excellent in the friendly games and in training and is clearly a very valuable addition to the panel.

“He’s a class player,” Payne agreed. “We give him a bit of a slagging because he was in the Chiefs team beaten by the Bulls by 60-odd points in the Super 14 final. But technically, he is very good, tough and nuggety, a typical Kiwi scrum-half.”

Another recent recruit, Frenchman Julian Brugnaut, will be challenging Marcus Horan and Tony Buckley for a starting place at prop while it will be interesting to see whether coach Tony McGahan keeps faith with the likes of Ian Nagle, Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, Tom Gleeson, Scott Deasy, Felix Jones and Danny Barnes, the youngsters who have acquitted themselves so well up to now, or returns to the more seasoned campaigners.

Apart from the Lions contingent, those not available to coach Tony McGahan on Friday are prop Darragh Hurley (currently recovering well after an operation on a disc in his neck); Jerry Flannery (who has recovered from the elbow injury that kept him out of the Lions tour but is now three weeks away from shaking off the effects of a calf muscle strain) and Niall Ronan, Ian Dowling and Nick Williams (all knee).

The hugely positive news, however, concerns Tomás O’Leary, who according to Shaun Payne is recovering much more quickly than expected from the serious ankle break that cost him his place with the Lions.

“He is well ahead of initial projections and we’re very confident that he will be back in the Magners League before the ERC begins,” said Payne.

“There was a stage when we feared he wouldn’t play before Christmas or the new year but he has made a significant recovery. A lot of that is down to himself and his work ethic and the effort put in by the physios and we’re very pleased about that”.

The Leinster squad to face the Scarlets in Saturday’s Magners League opener in Parc y Scarlets (KO: 6.30pm) has been named.

Experienced quartet Leo Cullen, Shane Horgan, Bernard Jackman and Malcolm O’Kelly are joined in the squad for this week’s game by Academy prospects Brendan Macken and Niall Morris who impressed during pre-season.

Girvan Dempsey, a substitute against London Irish, joins Isa Nacewa and Jonathan Sexton amongst the backs for the trip to Llanelli alongside summer signing Shaun Berne.

Meanwhile, time is running out to sign up and become a Leinster season ticket holder for 2009/10. Record sales over the last few months have passed the 10,600 mark and the deadline is next Monday, September 7. Visit www.leinsterrugby.ie for details.

MUNSTER: M. Horan, T. Buckley, J. Brugnaut, D. Fogarty, D. Varley, M. O’Driscoll, D. Ryan, I. Nagle, B. Holland, T. O’Donnell, N. Ronan, D. Leamy, J. Coughlan; P. Stringer, T. Morland, J. Manning, P. Warwick, L. Mafi, T. Gleeson, B. Murphy, D. Howlett, D. Hurley, S. Deasy, F. Jones, D. Barnes.

LEINSTER: L Cullen, J Fogarty, C Healy, B Jackman, S Jennings, S Keogh, R McCormack, K McLaughlin, S O’Brien, M O’Kelly, M Ross, D Toner, S Wright, S Berne, G Dempsey, S Horgan, C Keane, S Keogh, B Macken, F McFadden, N Morris, I Nacewa, P O’Donohoe, J Sexton.

ULSTER: N Brady, T Court , BJ Botha, B Young, E O’Donoghue, M McCullough, A Kyriacou, D Tuohy, R Diack, R Caldwell, C Henry, W Faloon , D Fitzpatrick. (Backs): T Nagusa, D Cave, N O’Connor, S Danielli, I Whitten, A Trimble, P Marshall, B Cunningham, I Whitten, I Boss, I Humphreys, P Wallace, N Spence .


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