/ Rugby

Paul O'Connell return a huge boost for Munster

Updated: Friday, 12 Oct 2012 12:03 | Comments

Paul O'Connell returns for the first time since May
Paul O'Connell returns for the first time since May

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Paul O'Connell has been named in Munster's starting XV for their opening Heineken Cup game against Racing Metro on Saturday.

O'Connell will pack down alongside Billy Holland, who is named in place of the injured Donncha O'Callaghan (hamstring), for the first time since early May.

O'Callaghan sat out yesterday's training at CIT and is out of the squad.

"It's great for Irish rugby, for the rugby community to see a player of his calibre back playing again" - Rob Penney

Elsewhere in the pack, Dave Kilcoyne retains the number 1 jersey in the absence of Wian du Preez, who sustained a knee injury against Leinster and Donnacha Ryan is named at blind-side ahead of Dave O'Callaghan.

Speaking of O'Connell's inclusion, coach Rob Penney felt it prudent to wait today following the session yesterday before making a decision about his participation or not.

Penney said: "We've always maintained that he'd be back when he felt he was ready. I think it's great for us.

“It's great for Irish rugby, for the rugby community to see a player of his calibre back playing again. It was a gradual process. In the interests of the player it had to be."

The one unforced change in the backline sees Ian Keatley in at full-back instead of Denis Hurley who is named on the bench.

Munster XV to play Racing Metro: Ian Keatley; Doug Howlett capt, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ronan O'Gara, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Billy Holland, Paul O'Connell; Donncha Ryan, Sean Dougall, Peter O'Mahony.

Replacements: Mick Sherry, Marcus Horan, Stephen Archer, Dave O'Callaghan, Paddy Butler, Peter Stringer, Danny Barnes, Denis Hurley.

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