Magners League
Munster close in on Celtic glory
April 23, 2009
Munster's Paul O'Connell wins a lineout ball, Clermont Auvergne v Munster, Heineken Cup, Stade Marcel Michelin, Clermont-Ferrand, France, December 7, 2008.
Lions skipper Paul O'Connell sits out for Munster's Magners League clash with the Scarlets © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Mark Jones | Stephen Jones | Paul O'Connell
Teams: Munster | Scarlets

Seven of Munster's eight Lions are included in the side to face the Scarlets in Musgrave Park on Friday night. New Lions skipper, Paul O'Connell is the odd man out.

O'Connell's absence is precautionary and the club have confirmed that he will be fit for next week's Heineken Cup semi-final.

Ronan O'Gara leads the side in a backline that features young Keith Earls, a 2009 Lion, at outside centre. They also boast a potent loose-trio in Alan Quinlan, Denis Leamy and David Wallace. Donncha O' Callaghan and Mick O' Driscoll are the lock partnership.

For the Scarlets, both their Lions representatives, Stephen Jones and Matthew Rees, are in the squad to play against Munster but both start on the bench.

Rhys Priestland retains the no. 10 jersey after impressing against the Ospreys last week.

Wales international Mark Jones retains the captaincy of the Scarlets and Lee Williams starts on the opposite wing.

Prop Deacon Manu is out with an Achilles sprain and loose-forward Dafydd Jones with a rib cartilage knock so they're replaced by former Cardiff Blues and Wales U21 tighthead Scott Roberts, who makes his Scarlets Magners League debut and flank Rob McCusker.

On the bench the Scarlet have included flank Johnny Edwards, back from a three-month injury lay-off and development contract lock Aaron Shingler.

Scarlets head coach Nigel Davies said: "Munster will be a big challenge for us but I'm confident that we can do ourselves justice.

"Our team stood up really well against the Ospreys. We had a lot of young boys out there and we'd had disruptions through the week due to injuries but we fronted up to the challenge.

"In many ways, I was delighted because what we're starting to see now is the advance of a lot of our younger players, the players who'll form a bedrock for the future of this region.

"The fact that they're being exposed to experiences such as the Ospreys and Munster mean that they'll be in a very strong position as we move forward."

Munster: Warwick, Howlett, Earls, Mafi, Dowling, O'Gara (captain), O'Leary; Horan, Flannery, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Driscoll, Quinlan, Wallace, Leamy

Replacements: Fogarty, Buckley, Ryan, Ronan, Stringer, Murphy, Hurley

Scarlets: Evans, Jones (captain), Higgitt, Davies, Williams, Priestland, Roberts, Thomas, Schwalger, Roberts, Cooper, Day, Turnbull, McCusker, Lyons

Replacements: John, Rees, Shingler, Edwards, Cattle, Jones, Thomas

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