7 Dec, 16:58
Retired Munster Rugby captain and former All Black Doug Howlett is back on board with the province as a Corporate Ambassador.
Other than that and the longer term injured, the atmosphere in the camp is positive according to skipper Paul O'Connell, "There's been a great buzz since we got back." he said.
"Obviously there was disappointment with the World Cup. There was a massive opportunity we left behind us out there but I think that all the Munster lads that were involved with Ireland were really enthusiastic to get back and looking forward to playing. So there's a really good buzz there now."
Reflecting on the the Aironi game, his first of the season he was fairly happy overall with the display. "Yeh, I was. I liked the first half an hour when it was dry and I thought we were playing really well. We were holding onto the ball for long periods of time and I thought we created a lot of space."
"Unfortunately the rain came down later on, a few injuries, guys playing out of position but we dug in deep. It would have been nice to have scored a few tries but for lads who didn't play a whole lot together I thought we did well."
"The fellas were really happy with the first half hour, really happy with the scrum. They're (Aironi) a good scrummaging side. They're a heavy, big pack and I thought we scrummed really well against them."
On a personal level, O'Connell is happy where he's at. "I'm enjoying it more than ever. I suppose I didn't really get a pre-season last year. I got a great one this year with Ireland above in Carton House. I enjoyed that, enjoyed getting a good run of games under my belt as well."
And looking forward to Friday's game? "It's going to be a really tough game for us and it'll really let us know where we are. We're going to be tested in every way. I mean obviously our scrum, y'know, Cian (Healy) and Mike Ross had a great World Cup. Our scrum is going to be tested. Our lineout. Fitness, physicality. They play a good pressure game as well."
"There's going to be a massive crowd there. Big heaving atmosphere. So for us it's going to be a great test and it will really let us know where we are and what we have to work on going into the two big weeks involving Northampton Saints & Castres."
Munster will announce their side for the game at lunchtime tomorrow shortly before the squad departs for Dublin.
Munster Squad: M Horan, W du Preez, J Hayes, BJ Botha, S Archer, D Varley, D Fogarty, M O'Driscoll, D Ryan, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, B Holland, D Leamy, N Ronan, P O'Mahony, T O'Donnell, J Coughlan, T O'Leary, C Murray, D Williams, P Stringer, I Keatley, R O'Gara, K Earls, D Barnes, L Mafi, W Chambers, D Howlett, D Hurley, J Murphy, S Deasy,
(Not considered due to injury: David Wallace, Troy Smith, Felix Jones, Jerry Flannery, Peter Borlase, Darragh Hurley, Mike Sherry, Dave O'Callaghan).