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Connacht, Leinster and Munster name teams for Heineken Cup action

We’ve got the team-sheets ahead of a busy few days of top club rugby for all four provinces.

100 not out: Ronan O'Gara is in line for a European Cup milestone.
100 not out: Ronan O'Gara is in line for a European Cup milestone.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

SIMON ZEBO WILL start Munster’s crucial Heineken Cup clash with Scarlets tomorrow.

Munster keep the same pack of forwards that faced Castres in round two but  Zebo’s introduction is one of four changes in the backline.

The young Corkman is required to deputise for Doug Howlett, whose season was ended thanks to a cruciate ligament injury this week.

The same day that Thomond Park officials learned that prognosis, however, Zebo left the UL training pitch injured after he went over on his ankle, giving Tony McGahan plenty to wonder about.

Zebo was yesterday told he was fit enough to be part of the squad and today he’s been included in the first XV.  It will be his Heineken Cup debut.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ronan O’Gara will play his 100th European Cup clash in the Parc Y Scarlets.

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Will Chambers - who was a replacement against Castres – starts instead of Danny Barnes while Johne Murphy is at 14 and Denis Hurley keeps the full back berth after impressive games against Edinburgh and Ospreys.

O’Gara insists the century milestone is not one which he’d been thinking about. “It wasn’t something I was aware of until I was told,” he said.

“Right now the game tomorrow is far more important than any stat or personal record. But when I’m finished playing, I’ve no doubt I’ll recognise the significance because this is a fantastic competition and one that has given me every possible emotion.”

Leinster, meanwhile, make several changes for their Sunday showdown with Pool 3 rivals Bath at the Rec.

In-form Fergus McFadden is named at outside centre alongside Gordon D’Arcy while up front, Damian Browne makes his second start in the tournament this season.

Richardt Strauss is named in the front row alongside Heinke van der Merwe and Mike Ross. Ireland internationals Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan and Devin Toner are named on a strong bench.

Connacht, meanwhile, make just a single change to their starting side ahead of Gloucester’s visit to the Sportsground.

Lock Mike McCarthy returns from suspension to replace the injured Michael Swift in the second row. He was cited after the defeat to Toulouse in Galway.

Ulster last night named their side to face Aironi in Ravenhill this evening.

Munster (v Scarlets): D Hurley; J Murphy, W Chambers, L Mafi, S Zebo; R O’Gara, C Murray; W du Preez, D Varley, BJ Botha; D Ryan, P O’Connell capt; P O’Mahony, N Ronan, J Coughlan.

Replacements:D Fogarty, M Horan, J Hayes, D O’Callaghan, D Leamy, T O’Leary, I Keatley, D Barnes.

Leinster (v Bath): R Kearney; I Nacewa, F McFadden, G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald, J Sexton, I Boss, H van der Merwe, R Strauss, M Ross,  L Cullen capt, D Browne, K McLaughlin, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy, N White, D Toner, S Jennings, E Reddan, I Madigan, E O’Malley.

Connacht: G Duffy, capt; M McCrea, K Tonetti, D McSharry, T O’Halloran, N O’Connor, F Murphy, B Wilkinson, E Reynecke, R Loughney, M McCarthy, G Naoupu, D Gannon, J Muldoon, R Ofisa.

Replacements: A Flavin, D Buckley, R Ah You, M Kearney, E McKeon, P O’Donohoe, M Jarvis, F Vainikolo.

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