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Dublin: 1 °C Sunday 18 March, 2018

O'Connell and Murray return for Munster's clash with Zebre

The Ireland internationals make their first appearances of the season at Thomond Park tomorrow.

O'Connell makes his first start of the season for Munster.
O'Connell makes his first start of the season for Munster.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ANTHONY FOLEY HAS handed Ireland internationals Paul O’Connell and Conor Murray their first appearances of the season for tomorrow’s Pro12 clash with Zebre at Thomond Park [KO 7.30pm].

O’Connell partners Billy Holland in the second row for the visit of the Italian side, while Murray is joined by 23-year-old out-half Johnny Holland in the halfback pairing.

Cork Con playmaker Holland – who is still on a development contract – will be making his first competitive start for the province tomorrow, with JJ Hanrahan providing cover from the bench as Ian Keatley misses out.

Felix Jones captains the team again from fullback, forming a back three unit with wings Ronan O’Mahony and Simon Zebo, while Andrew Smith is joined by Denis Hurley in the centre.

In the front row, James Cronin, Duncan Casey and the experienced BJ Botha will look to dominate their opponents in Limerick, while the back row features Tommy O’Donnell, Robin Copeland and Paddy Butler – the latter makes his first start of the season at blindside flanker.

Joining Hanrahan on the replacements bench are the likes of Ireland internationals Dave Kilcoyne and Donncha O’Callaghan, as well as impressive hooker Kevin O’Byrne and prop John Ryan.

Munster: Felix Jones (capt.), Ronan O’Mahony, Andrew Smith, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Johnny Holland, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha; Billy Holland, Paul O’Connell; Paddy Butler, Tommy O’Donnell, Robin Copeland.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Johne Murphy.

Zebre: Hendrik Daniller; David Odiete, Giulio Bisegni, Kelly Haimona, Giulio Toniolatti; Edoardo Padovani, Guglielmo Palazzani; Andrea Lovotti, Andrea Manici, Luciano Leibson; Quintin Geldenhuys (capt.), George Biagi; Mauro Bergamasco, Filippo Cristiano, Samuela Vunisa.

Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani, Andrea De Marchi, Dario Chistolini, Valerio Bernabò, Andries Ferreira, Alberto Chillon, Gonzalo Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco.

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