Munster will welcome David Wallace back to the fold at some stage of tomorrow’s RaboDirect Pro12 clash with Aironi at Stadio Zaffanella in Viadana.
Wallace’s return — he’s named on the bench by Tony McGahan — was welcomed by colleague Denis Hurley yesterday who hailed the 35-year-old flanker as “magnificent”, following a six-month battle to recover from a knee injury.
On a day when McGahan is experimenting with Scott Deasy in the out-half role from the start – Ian Keatley is included in the reserves – Munster will relish the prospect of a run-out for Wallace, who was denied a place in Declan Kidney’s World Cup last August.
“For a guy like David, 35 is only a number,” said Hurley.
“He has plenty more to offer Munster and probably Irish rugby as well. It’s great to get him back. There were a few stages in the last couple of months when we were very thin in the back row with the amount of injuries. Dave getting back and, hopefully, getting through this weekend, is a huge bonus, as is the return of Tommy O’Donnell, especially considering Niall Ronan is out. But throughout the crisis, lads such as Peter O’Mahony have stepped in and done quality jobs.
“Now Peter O’Mahony finds himself starting for Ireland this weekend, that’s a sign there’s plenty of young lads there with the potential to push through.”
As Munster strive for another victory to consolidate their position in second place, Hurley will be one of the experienced players warning others what Aironi are capable of doing. Even though the Italian club has been hugely hit by unavailability of international players and injuries, they still pose a threat.
“So far,” he said, “we haven’t exactly set the world alight with the rugby we’ve been playing, but we haven’t been beaten this year [their last defeat was to Ulster on December 30].
“Having said that, this one could be a bit of a slippery type of fixture; it would be an easy one for us to think we should win, fall asleep and get punished.
“We’ve certainly got to be on our guard. The realisation has to be Aironi stuck it to Leinster for a long time last week.”
Munster: F Jones, D Hurley, S Tokula, L Mafi, S Zebo; S Deasy, D Williams; W du Preez, M Sherry, S Archer; B Holland, M O’Driscoll (captain), Dave O’Callaghan, T O’Donnell, P Butler.
Replacements: D Fogarty, M Horan, BJ Botha, I Nagle, D Wallace, C Sheridan, I Keatley, L O’Dea.
Aironi: T Tebaldi, R Pavan, M Pratichetti, G Pizarro, S Sinoti; L Orquera, T Keats; M Aguero, R Santamaria (captain), L Romano, G Biagi, C Del Fava, F Ferrarini, J Sole, N Cattina.
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