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Gaffney Covers Every Angle
10 October 2004, 11:32 am
Munster coach Alan Gaffney continues to try different combinations in the final game before the Heineken Cup, with Rob Henderson and Shaun Payne selected in midfield for Saturday's game.
By Pat Geraghty

Munster coach Alan Gaffney continues to try different combinations in the final game before the Heineken Cup, with Rob Henderson and Shaun Payne selected in midfield for Saturday's game against Cardiff Blues in Thomond Park (5.15pm).

And up front injury to Donncha O'Callaghan means that Trevor Hogan fights off the challenge of former Australian lock Tom Bowman to partner Paul O'Connell in the second row.

Hogan's form of late probably made that decision a relatively straight-forward one unlike the back-row where Gaffney had to choose from, Alan Quinlan, Jim Williams, Stephen Keogh,Denis Leamy, David Wallace and Anthony Foley.

Williams, back in contention after injuring his elbow in the game against Leinster, comes straight back into the side thanks to his consistently good form up to the time of his injury and he takes over form Alan Quinlan who is named on the bench.

With Williams accomodated on the blindside it then became a straight choice between Leamy and Wallace for the openside berth and once again Gaffney opted for the form player, in this case Leamy who has cemented himself into the side while Wallace was doing his pre-season at the behest of the national management.

By the time Wallace had the opportunity to stake a claim Leamy already had four games under his belt. For Leamy it was a question of making hay while the sun shone and the first time he was out of the side was last week when Gaffney "freshened him up", selecting Wallace for the game in Scotland.

Frustrating as it may be for Wallace who made some great yardage last weekend, Leamy has been the outstanding performer for Munster up front since the start of the season, followed closely in recent games by another Tipp man Trevor Hogan.

If the Tipp pair have caught the eye in the pack then Christian Cullen has done likewise in the backs. Two more tries against Glasgow makes him the leading try scorer in the Celtic League and the danger hooters sound in opposition defences, the minute Cullen gets anywhere near an attacking move, with ball in hand or without.

One of those Cullen tries was down to the perfectly timed and weugted pass from John Kelly who has played himself back into the side and Anthony Horgan is another whose early season form augers well for Munster.

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