Munster look to cement top spot
March 26, 2009
Mick O'Driscoll will captain league-leaders Munster against Glasgow © Getty Images
The battle for this season's Magners League title is set to intensify this weekend as the action reaches Round 13.
Lock Mick O'Driscoll will captain Munster against Glasgow Warriors at Firhill on Friday night as the Irish province look to cement their place at the top of the table.
Elsewhere, scrum-half Peter Stringer starts with his international team mate Tomas O'Leary named on the bench while Barry Murphy takes his place on the wing having recovered from a shoulder injury.
Looking ahead to the game coach coach Tony McGahan said, "Obviously we have to be happy where we are in terms of league position as the competition restarts after the Six Nations. The squad have worked extremely hard, applied themselves well. However, we recognise how difficult a fixture this is. Glasgow haven't been beaten in Firhill by an Irish side in almost two years and that sort of form gives a side huge confidence. They have almost all their internationals back and there has never been much between us in recent times.
"They (Glasgow) are only one win off fourth spot. That's how competitive the Magners League is and with Leinster to follow in this competition and then Ospreys a week later in the Heineken Cup, our performance on Friday is going to be hugely significant in terms of both those competitions. Obviously the break (for the Six Nations) makes it difficult but it's the same for them as well so its a matter of adjusting quickly, players getting back into the tempo of game time and taking the opportunites when they present themselves."
Flanker James Eddie and winger Lome Fa'atau return to the Glasgow line-up as they seek to maintain their unbeaten home record against Irish opposition since May 2006. The 23-year-old Eddie will make only his fourth appearance of the season due to a shoulder injury and latterly due to knee ligament damage.
Meanwhile, Samoan international flyer Fa'atau has made a return to full training this week having recovered sufficiently from a shin bone injury which has ruled him out of front-line action for three and a half months. He replaces Hefin O'Hare - who is on Scotland 7s duty at the IRB Sevens World Series event in Hong Kong - on the right wing.
Warriors head coach, Sean Lineen, said: "There's no better game to focus the mind than facing the current Magners League leaders and the European champions at home. It's a massive opportunity to get back to winning ways at home and the supporters will play a huge part in helping them achieve that." [Teams]
Captain Mike Blair will lead Edinburgh for the first time since January when they take on Connacht at Murrayfield on Friday night. Blair returns to the line-up alongside fellow internationals Chris Paterson, Nick De Luca, Phil Godman, Ross Ford and Jim Hamilton. Elsewhere, Andrew Turnbull will start on the wing fresh from helping Scotland win the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens Plate in Dubai while Geoff Cross returns to the front row having recovered from a knee injury.
In the back row, Scott Newlands replaces club captain Simon Cross, who is unavailable because of a back injury while Matt Mustchin (ankle) is named amongst the replacements after a two-month lay-off.
"It is good to be back playing for Edinburgh," he said, "We are keen to generate some momentum and that starts with the Connacht match. There are six games remaining and we believe that all six are winnable matches. With it being such a tight league, if we can achieve that goal then we can finish near the top end of the championship."
Connacht have made two changes and one positional switch for the match with Kieran Campbell slated to start at scrum-half after representing Ireland at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai. Elsewhere, Michael Swift is recalled to the second row with Andrew Browne reverting to the backrow and Adrian Flavin has recovered from a leg injury to be included for the first time since February. [Teams]
In the final match of the weekend Leinster play host Ulster in Dublin on Sunday in our Game of the Week
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership with fireworks and monsters both featuring
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14