CORK prop Liam ‘Boomer’ O’Connor will make his Munster debut in Musgrave Park this evening as the Reds kick-off their Guinness PRO14 campaign in Cork, 7.35pm.
The Reds' return to competitive action is live on TG4, though a healthy crowd is expected on Leeside to mark the start of the season.
O'Connor, aged 22 and in his third year with the Munster Academy, is one of three debutants named by director of rugby Rassie Erasmus to face Benetton Rugby, along with new signing Chris Farrell and Sean O’Connor the other two.
The Ballyvolane native, who started out playing rugby with Dolphin and blossomed through his time with Christians and more recently with Cork Con, gets his start at loosehead after impressing hugely for the A side in their B & I Cup title win last season and has continued his upward curve in pre-season.
Chris Farrell is named at outside centre in an exciting looking backline which has plenty of strike runners in it.
Farrell will start alongside Jaco Taute in the centre with Tyler Bleyendaal set to captain the side from out-half.
Cork’s O’Connor will be one of two debutants in the pack with Sean O’Connor coming into the back row to make his first PRO14 appearance.
The addition of O'Connor to the back row sees Billy Holland revert to the tight five and is partnered by Jean Kleyn in the second row. The South African has successfully rehabbed the neck injury that saw him miss the end of last season and he will be looking to cement his spot for the following week and the visit of South African side Cheetahs to Thomond Park.
Tommy O'Donnell also makes a welcome return after he had completed his return-to-play protocols.
Bantry native Fineen Wycherly is named on the bench alongside two players who should make their debuts as well for Munster with prop Ciaran Parker and half-back James Hart in the match day squad.
MUNSTER: Andrew Conway, Darren Sweetnam, Chris Farrell, Jaco Taute, Alex Wootton; Tyler Bleyendaal – capt., Duncan Williams; Liam O'Connor, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Sean O'Connor, Tommy O'Donnell, Jack O'Donoghue.
Replacements: Mike Sherry, Brian Scott, Ciaran Parker, Fineen Wycherley, Robin Copeland, James Hart, Ian Keatley, Dan Goggin.