Racing Metro v Munster - Heineken Cup match preview
Last Updated: 13/10/12 1:13pm
Paul O'Connell has been named in Munster's team for their Heineken Cup opener against Racing Metro at Stade de France after a five-month absence.
O'Connell, who has not played since May due to related knee and back injuries, is joined in the second row by Billy Holland after Donncha O'Callaghan was ruled out with a hamstring problem.
Munster are also missing prop Wian du Preez (knee) and hooker Mike Sherry (ankle), meaning starts for Dave Kilcoyne and Damien Varley in the front row.
Donnacha Ryan is preferred at blindside flanker to Dave O'Callaghan, who is named on the bench.
The one unforced change in the back division sees Ian Keatley in at full-back instead of Denis Hurley.
Olly Barkley makes his first start for Racing since his move from Bath after coming off the bench in the Top 14 last week.
Mirco Bergamasco returns to the starting XV at outside centre for the Parisians, while fellow Italy international Andrea Lo Cicero is added to the front-row.
Racing Metro: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Julien Jane, 13 Mirco Bergamasco, 12 Fabrice Estebanez, 11 Julien Saubade, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Masinivanua Matadigo, 7 Jacques Cronje (c), 6 Antoine Battut, 5 Francois Van der merwe, 4 Karim Ghezal, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Eddy Ben Arous , 18 Benjamin Sa, 19 Fabrice Metz, 20 Bernard le Roux, Sebastien Descons, 21 Camille Gerondeau, 22 Sebastien Descons, 23 Virimi Vakatawa
Munster: 15 Ian Keatley, 14 Doug Howlett (c), 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Peter O'Mahony. 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Billy Holland, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Mick Sherry, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Dave O'Callaghan, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Danny Barnes, 23 Denis Hurley
What they said...
Munster captain Doug Howlett
"I am hoping Simon can take away some of the unknown about Racing and give us a clue as to how they play and what makes them tick.
"Racing are pretty unpredictable, but pretty dangerous. It is going to be a huge occasion for us playing at Stade de France.
"We have talked about the game and we will be concentrating pretty much on our own game in the build-up though Racing have huge strength in depth."