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Eight Changes From Last Time

Guinness PRO12 Editor

23 Mar 2012

Munster make eight changes to their starting line-up for the trip to Galway tomorrow and the RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Connacht (7.45pm).

Five of those changes come in the pack where there's a return to action for Damien Varley and James Coughlan, neither of whom played against Aironi while in the backline London Irish bound Tomas O'Leary partners Ian Keatley at half back and Johne Murphy is paired with Perpignan destined Lifeimi Mafi in the centre.

Birmingham born second year Academy player, Luke O'Dea, who was added to the Heineken Cup squad yesterday, is listed among the replacements. The Shannon wing marked his debut at senior level with a try against Edinburgh in November and followed up with tries against Ulster and Newport Gwent Dragons. He'll take up a Development contract next season.

Mafi's move to Perpignan was officially confirmed on Wednesday and coach Tony McGahan was fulsome in his praise of the 29 year old Tongan. "He has been an outstanding contributor to the Munster set up. A thorough professional on and off the field and an extremely populer squad member with both players and management." he said.

" He has played an integral part in the success Munster have enjoyed in League and Heineken Cup since joining in 2006 and I believe that when it comes to discuss the greats who have worn the Munster jersey, Lifeimi will be right up there among them."

Besides the consistency he brought to his play, Mafi was also one of Munster most regular performers, averaging 23 games a season. Tomorrow he plays his 21st game of 2011/2012, 20 of those in the starting XV.

Munster: F Jones; D Hurley, J Murphy, L Mafi, S Zebo; I Keatley, T O'Leary; W du Preez, D Varley, BJ Botha; I Nagle, M O'Driscoll capt; Dave O'Callaghan, D Wallace, J Coughlan. Replacements: M Sherry, M Horan, S Archer, B Holland, T O'Donnell, D Williams, S Deasy, L O'Dea.

Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU)