O'Connell to start for Munster against Connacht

Updated: Thursday, 21 Mar 2013 17:05

Paul O'Connell has been named in the Munster starting fifteen to take on Connacht in Saturday's RaboDirect Pro12 clash.

It's the first time that the Irish international will start a senior game since recovering from back surgery.

O'Connell underwent an operation in January to correct a bulging disc that was pressing on a nerve in his lower back and returns to the Munster set-up ahead of schedule, having previously set an April return date.

Rob Penney has made just three changes from the side that drew with Ospreys, all those up front and more specifically in the back five.

Unsurprisingly O’Connell’s return forces Billy Holland to the bench and just as unsurprisingly Donncha O’Callaghan gets to partner him while in the backrow Sean Dougall returns to the starting line-up for the first time since the 9 January League encounter with Edinburgh.

The backline remains the same as does the front row while Niall Ronan is included in the match day squad for the first time since November.

Munster team to play Connacht: F Jones; D Howlett, C Laulala, J Downey, D Hurley; R O’Gara, C Sheridan; D Kilcoyne,D Varley, S Archer; Donncha O’Callaghan, P O’Connell; T O’Donnell, S Dougall, J Coughlan.

Replacements: M Sherry, W du Preez, BJ Botha, B Holland, N Ronan, D Williams, I Keatley, I Dineen.