Gavin Coombes is in contention to make his first appearance of the season for Munster in Friday's BKT United Rugby Championship Interpro against Connacht.

The number 8 missed the opening three rounds of games due to a groin injury, with fellow Corkman Jack O'Sullivan starting at the back of the pack in his place.

However, the Ireland international was put through his paces in the warm-up before Saturday's 21-5 win against Zebre Parma at Musgrave Park, with head coach Graham Rowntree saying he's in with a chance of being cleared to play at the Sportsground this Friday night.

"We'll see, certainly he’s fit now," the Munster coach said of Coombes.

"He’s important for us. We’ll make that decision at the start of the week. He’s certainly fitter than he was. If he’s going to be ready for Friday night, I’ll make that decision at the start of the week."

With Keith Earls and Andrew Conway injured last week, and Calvin Nash and Shane Daly both away in South Africa with Emerging Ireland, Munster turned to youth at the weekend. Academy pair Conor Phillips and Patrick Campbell both started on the wings, Phillips making his debut with Campbell playing his third game for the province.

Both players acquitted themselves well, despite a generally sluggish performance from the team as a whole, while two other academy prospects, Edwin Edogbo and Ruadhan Quinn (below) appeared off the bench in the second half.

Edogbo made his debut in last week's defeat to the Dragons, while 18-year-old Quinn became the province's youngest player of the professional era, having helped Crescent College to a Munster Schools Senior Cup in March.

Rowntree says being able to blend those youngsters into the squad, along with experienced internationals such as Peter O'Mahony, Conor Murray and Tadhg Beirne, will be invaluable for their growth.

"It's excellent, just excellent for their development," he added.

"The senior guys in this club are very good at pulling those guys along, not singling them out in training but pulling them with them.

"He’s electric, Patrick Campbell, the same with Philsy [Conor Phillips].

"I was delighted with Ruadhan again, came off the bench, made a debut and made a dent with some good carries up the edge there. He’s a real prospect for the future, especially as he’s only 18-years-old. He’s exciting.

"That’s one thing that’s coming through very quickly and I’m looking to force it through, is the youth. We’ve got a good academy and I’m looking at putting these guys through as quickly as is possible."

While the Munster coach was pleased to get up and running with their first win of the season, he was honest in his assessment of their second half performance, where they were held scoreless for the second week in a row, missing out on a bonus-point.

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Munster captain Peter O'Mahony sums up the URC win over Zebre which saw the province pick up a first win of the season but miss out on a bonus point.

Having been 21-0 in front at half time, with three tries on the board, and their visitors having seen both starting centres forced off due to injury, he admitted his team had been given "an open goal" to go and secure maximum points, only for his side to struggle for any attacking cohesion.

"We have to do better with the amount of territory and possession we had in that second half. We have to look at ourselves again, how we can look after the ball better."

"And then we go and lose two of our own line outs through our own inaccuracy when we'd got them camped in their own 22, and we go and lose our own lineout and we need to look at that as well.

"Yeah, we just couldn't keep hold of the ball for a significant length of time. We played in the right areas of the field so we have to be better. The guys afterwards were saying it, just have to be better in that area of looking after the ball."

Big improvements will be needed over the coming weeks, with Munster graced for a difficult run of fixtures, book-ended by Interpros against Connacht, while also taking on Bulls, Leinster and Ulster.

"It’s always a big night going up there," Rowntree said of Friday's meeting with Connacht, who will be looking for their first win of the season, after losing three games on the road.

"It’s an Interpro, we lost there on New Year’s Day this year and they played really well that day, they forced us into making a lot of errors.

"So it was always going to be tough, but now their record going into this game and their new pitch and all that wrapped up, it’s going to be an even tougher ask for us."