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Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Munster will be to the fore again
David Wallace
David Wallace forms part of an excellent back-row
BBC Sport Online assesses Munster's chances for the forthcoming rugby season.

Munster have been by far the most impressive of the Irish provinces over the past three seasons.

The current provincial champions, their record in Europe over the past two years is evidence enough that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with again.

Declan Kidney, the only Irish coach in charge of a province, is now in his third term in charge.

The Munster coach has been boosted by the surprise news that Wallaby lock John Langford will be available for most of Munster's campaign.

  Season tips:
Celtic League prediction: Play-off stage
Inter-Provincial Champ prediction: 1st
Star player: Ronan O'Gara

Langford is still in Australia and will not be available for their Celtic League opener against Edinburgh but he is expected to return to Ireland in early September.

By many people's reckoning, Langford was one of the reasons why Munster made one Heineken Cup final two years ago, and should have made another last season.

Kidney has also snapped up Wallaby No 8 Jim Williams as a replacement, although where to put the big back-row forward is another thing.

Munster are already blessed with a very attack-minded trio, all of whom are Irish internationals.

David Wallace, indeed, became the third member of his family following Richard and Paul, to play for the Lions.

Along with Alan Quinlan and No 8 Anthony Foley, they are virtually set in cement at the rear of the Munster scrum.

That is one area that could be a problem this season.

Rob Henderson
Rob Henderson is a big-name addition

Skipper Mick Galwey is no spring chicken and is joined in veteran stakes by prop Peter Clohessy whose games at the top level this season are certain to be limited.

However, Munster still have a very potent three-quarter line.

It will be again orchestrated by Ronan O'Gara who literally got a real eye-opener with the Lions in Australia.

He will be joined by new addition Rob Henderson who has joined from Wasps and will add to the firepower behind the scrum when he returns from knee surgery.

Watch out for left winger Anthony Horgan and utility back Jeremy Staunton.

Horgan is a great finisher and could be pushing for international honours this season if he can avoid injury.

Staunton is something else.

Still to find a regular place in the Munster starting line-up, he is, however, a match-winner, a real D'Artagnan - a type of Mark Ring.

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See also:

21 Apr 01 |  Heineken Cup
Munster edged out by Stade
20 Jan 01 |  Northern Ireland
Munster secure home quarter-final
14 Jan 01 |  Heineken Cup
O'Gara guides Munster through
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