Dan Goggin scores against London Irish in 2019.

Munster to take on Kidney's London Irish in pre-season clash

The Graham Rowntree era gets underway with two friendlies in Cork.

MUNSTER WILL WELCOME Declan Kidney’s London Irish to Cork for the province’s second pre-season fixture ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

Graham Rowntree is taking over as the new Munster head coach this summer and he will begin his reign with pre-season friendlies against two Premiership sides.

Munster had already confirmed that Gloucester will visit Musgrave Park on Friday 26 August [KO 7.30pm] and have now announced that they will face Kidney’s Exiles at the same venue on Friday 2 September [KO 7.30pm].

Munster and London Irish will compete for the Jack Wakefield Memorial Trophy, which is named after a young London Irish supporter who passed away in 2005. The trophy is up for grabs any time London Irish take on an Irish province in a challenge game.

London Irish finished eighth in the Premiership this season and reached the Challenge Cup quarter-finals. Former Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss is the head coach of the English club, working alongside ex-Munster, Leinster and Ireland boss Kidney.

The Exiles’ senior squad includes former Ireland out-half Paddy Jackson, ex-Leinster scrum-half Hugh O’Sullivan, and former Ireland underage internationals Jack Cooke and Caolan Englefield.

There is plenty of excitement within Munster about the start of the Rowntree era, particularly after a disappointing end to Johann van Graan’s time in charge.

The southern province were well beaten by Ulster in this season’s URC quarter-finals, having been edged out by Toulouse in a penalty shootout in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Rowntree will have a new coaching team around him, with Mike Prendergast joining as attack coach, Denis Leamy coming on board as defence coach, and Andi Kyriacou being promoted from the academy to the forwards coach role.

Munster have signed Irish-qualified centre Antoine Frisch, University of Exeter hooker Chris Moore, and former All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa – who is currently with the Tonga squad for the Pacific Nations Cup – ahead of next season, while five academy players are being promoted to senior contracts.

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