6 Dec, 21:27
Munster A tasted defeat for the first time this season as they went down 17-7 to Plymouth Albion in the British and Irish Cup on Friday night.
In explaining what is undoubtedly a big call at nine, Tony McGahan said, "Conor has been a consistent member of the senior squad in training over the past twelve months because of International call ups and injuries to our half-back position."
"In this time he has gathered valuable training experiences from the more senior players in the squad which allowed him to play off the bench in last Six Nations window and start against the Dragons in our last Magners League game this year."
"He impressed the coaching staff and fellow players with an enthusiastic and mature display in his first professional start and deserves to be in the mix competing with Peter and Duncan for game time with Tomas's unfortunate bout of injuries."
All in all, McGahan makes ten changes to the starting XV from the one that played against the Dragons in Musgrave Park three weeks ago, one of those changes forced by Paul Warwick's return to Australia on family matters.
Elsewhere, the inclusion of Felix Jones at full-back means Johne Murphy switching to outside centre with Earls on the left wing in place of Simon Zebo.
Up front, it's all change in the front row with Wian du Preez, Damien Varley and Tony Buckley starting on this occasion, O'Connell comes in for Ian Nagle while the back row remains the same other than Niall Ronan, who returned from injury in the A game last week, replacing Donnacha Ryan who is named on the bench.
Munster: F Jones, D Howlett, J Murphy, L Mafi, K Earls, R O'Gara, C Murray, W du Preez, D Varley, T Buckley, P O'Connell capt, M O'Driscoll, J Coughlan, N Ronan, D Leamy. Replacements: M Sherry, M Horan, S Archer, D Ryan, P O'Mahony, P Stringer, S Tuitupou, D Cusack.