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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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Carbery and Munster to tackle Leinster early, both provinces due in South Africa on the same November weekend

There will be two rounds of inter-pros before European competition kicks off this season.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

JOEY CARBERY WON’T have long to wait until he takes on his former Leinster colleagues with Munster scheduled for a crack at the PRO14 champions the week before the start of the Heineken Champions Cup in October.

Carbery, like most of the Irish squad after their victorious tour to Australia, will miss the opening rounds of the PRO14 in September but he is likely to have made his Munster debut by the time they visit the Aviva Stadium on October 6.

In a new departure next season, it is proposed there will be two rounds of Irish derbies on the weekends leading up to the start of the European action.

Munster are scheduled to host Ulster and Connacht take on Leinster on the final weekend of September, with Kingspan Stadium in Belfast hosting Ulster against Connacht the weekend before they go into Europe.

PRO14 champions Leinster are set to start the defence of their crown with successive matches in Wales on the two opening weekends away to Cardiff Blues and Scarlets in a repeat of last season’s final which Leo Cullen’s men won by 40-32.

The new all-weather surface at Musgrave Park in Cork could host Munster’s opening game of the new season against the Cheetahs — Johann van Graan’s men will play both their preseason friendlies against Exeter Chiefs and London Irish there.

Simon Easterby, the Ireland forwards coach who is heading north to help Ulster until new boss Dan McFarland arrives in January from Scotland, will take on a Scarlets side that he coached and played for in the opening game of the campaign.

Simon Easterby Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

They will be the first of the Irish provinces to head to South Africa, taking on the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs in September before the start of the Irish derbies.

New Connacht coach Andy Friend has a great opportunity to make an immediate impact with three of their opening four games at the Sportsground, starting with Glasgow Warriors and then Michael Bradley’s Zebre on the opening two weekends, with a trip to Edinburgh being followed by the visit of Scarlets.

Andy Friend speaks to the kids Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Like Ulster, they will have a double date in South Africa this season, taking on the Kings in Port Elizabeth at the end of November and the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein at the start of December.

Leinster and Munster will travel on the same weekend for their single trips to South Africa but both will be without their Irish internationals as their games will take place on Sunday, November 4, a day after Ireland take on Italy in Chicago.

Similar to last season, the final round of games will all be derby clashes with the final, expected to be soon confirmed for Glasgow Celtic’s ground Parkhead, pencilled in for May 25.

All 152 games in the 2018-19 will be televised live in another new departure for the competition.

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John Fallon

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