sport

Munster v Edinburgh preview

Table-topping Munster have named a strong side for Sunday's Heineken Cup Pool 6 clash with Edinburgh at Thomond Park (kick-off 12.45pm).

The back row of skipper Peter O'Mahony, Tommy O'Donnell and James Coughlan is retained having impressed for much of the season, while British and Irish Lion Conor Murray starts at scrum-half.

The pack is bolstered by veteran second-row Paul O'Connell's presence, while Keith Earls continues on the right wing. JJ Hanrahan settles for a spot on the bench with Ian Keatley preferred at fly-half.

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons names the same match-day 23 that defeated Top 14 side Perpignan at Murrayfield last Saturday to set up the chance to progress to the last eight of the Challenge Cup.

To do so they will have to reproduce the kind of performance that saw them overcome the Irishmen at Murrayfield in round one, against a side seeking to secure a coveted home Heineken Cup quarter-final.

Edinburgh currently occupy the last remaining qualification spot for the second tier European Cup competition and will need to match the efforts of other pool runners-up to extend their stay in Europe.

"Munster are one of the top teams in Europe and have been for some time," said Solomons.

"They have a tremendous tradition and heritage; they are notoriously difficult in Limerick and are fighting to secure a home quarter-final. The challenges don't get much bigger than that.

"In round one we showed that we had advanced enough as a team to win against a top side but, rest assured, Munster will be keen to set the record straight, I have no doubt about that.

"The important thing for us is that, since then, we have continued to improve as a team and are looking forward to this challenge."

The squad re-selection means that 23-year-old wing Tom Brown will lead the team out on to Thomond Park on his 50th appearance for the club.

Munster: 15 Jones, 14 Earls, 13 Laulala, 12 Downey, 11 Murphy, 10 Keatley, 9 Murray; 1 Kilcoyne, 2 Varley, 3 Archer, 4 Foley, 5 O'Connell, 6 O'Mahony (capt), 7 O'Donnell, 8 Coughlan

Replacements: 16 Casey, 17 Cronin, 18 Botha, 19 O'Callaghan, 20 Butler, 21 Williams, 22 Hanrahan, 23 Zebo

Edinburgh: 15 Cuthbert, 14 Fife, 13 De Luca, 12 Atiga, 11 Brown, 10 Tonks, 9 Laidlaw (capt); 1 Dickinson, 2 Ford, 3 Nel, 4 Gilchrist, 5 Van der Westhuizen, 6 Du Preez, 7 Grant, 8 Denton

Replacements: