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Doug Howlett and Lifeimi Mafi
Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Season Starts on Monday
6 June 2009, 11:48 am
By Pat Geraghty
Just six weeks after they signed off on season 2008/2009 the first of the Munster squad assemble to begin preparations for season 2009/2010.
Those players not involved in Lions or Churchill Cup squads will assemble next Monday morning in their respective Cork and Limerick gyms to begin their pre-season training regime under the watchful eye of Strength & Conditioning boss Paul Darbyshire.

The likes of Marcus Horan Ciaran O'Boyle, Alan Quinlan, Ian Dowling, Barry Murphy and Paul Warwick will report bright 'n early to Conditioning Coaches Tom Comyns and Joe Gallanagh in UL on Monday while Daragh Hurley, Doug Howlett, Billy Holland, Denis Leamy, Lifeimi Mafi, James Coughlan et al will present themselves to Darbyshire and Aidan O'Connell at the Cork facility in Forge Hill.

All those senior internationals will be joined by Academy and Development squaddies and the players involved in the recent Churchill Cup success will arrive back on Monday 13th July followed by Munster Lions three weeks later.

One of the newcomers this season is Killaloe native Damien Varley who returns to Limerick and Munster after a season with London Wasps. Varley, who won a Senior Cup, AIB Cup and AIB League medal with Garryowen was in the extended Munster pre-season training squad in 2006, was offered a trial by Shaun Edwards last summer. That ended with a contract and Varley took himself off to Richmond in south London and a house share with Mossy Lawler.

He played Premiership rugby against Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks before Christmas but once word leaked out that there was perhaps a move back to Munster on his mind, Wasps possibly decided to invest time in others.

"It came about when Pat Chesser contacted Warren Gatland and he in turn got onto Shaun Edwards. I really enjoyed my time there and learnt a lot and it's an experience I think will stand to me," he said. " I was of course delighted when Munster contacted me and it's great to be back home and with a squad like Munster. Really looking forward to the season ahead.

Varley and his new teammates' first away trip together will be in the first week of August when they head to Portugal for a week long pre-season training camp.

On their return, they open with pre-season friendlies against Sale Sharks (Cork 14th Aug), London Irish (Cork 21st Aug) and Leicester Tigers in Welford Road on the 28th with the opening Magners League game the following weekend.

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