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James Coughlan
Cathal Noonan/Inpho.
Coughlan leads Munster against Viadana on Friday
9 September 2007, 3:31 pm
By Pat Geraghty
James Coughlan will lead Munster in Friday's final pre-season warm-up game against Viadana at Musgrave Park (6.30pm)
The 26 year old Dolphin clubman takes over the captaincy from Anthony Foley, who is named among an extended replacement bench, as coach Declan Kidney further examines his options a week before the competitive season kicks off for his squad.

Kidney makes 12 changes, two positional, to the side that started against Saracens last week and this time around introduces two Academy players - Sean Cronin and Tommy O'Donnell - to his starting XV while a third, Duncan Williams is also included among the replacements.

Mossy Lawlor (full-back), Kieran Lewis (centre) and Niall Ronan (wing-forward) are the only three who retain their positions from last No ALT tag specifiedweek end while Billy Holland will earn his second senior start in the second row alongside Mark Melbourne rather than in the number six jersey he wore with such distinction last weekend, O'Donnell (UL Bohemians) comes in in place of Holland.

The other positional change sees Federico Pucciariello switch from loose to tight-head prop to allow Eugene McGovern slot in beside Cronin in the front-row.

Gerry Hurley, who made his senior debut against the USA Eagles in Toyota Park, partners Jeremy Manning at half-back and Hurley's Garryowen clubmate Ciaran O'Boyle is another who makes his senior debut for Munster, O'Boyle on the wing in place of Ian Dowling who was another showing good early form in the past two games.

Rua Tipoki takes over from fellow New Zealander Lifeimi Mafi in the centre and Anthony Horgan, a 33rd minute replacement for John Kelly last week, retains the number 14 jersey.

The news on Kelly is good in that initial fears that he might have suffered a fracture have not been realised. A scan showed bruising after he fell awkwardly and twisted both knee and ankle. "Thankfully it's not as bad as it looked at first, "said Kidney," he needs to stay off it as much as he can and we'll have a better idea next week what sort of timeframe we're looking at for a return to training."

Further good news is that Denis Hurley has returned to training. He made an ever so brief appearance in the game against The Eagles in Toyota Park before going over on an ankle but word is he may be in contention for selection next week.

John O'Sullivan however is facing an extended period on the sideline. He damaged a cruciate ligament in that game in Chicago and on Friday undergoes surgery to repair the damage. He is not expected to be back training until the Six Nations time of the season.

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