While Munster and Leinster have both named second-string sides for tonight’s Pro14 clash there is still plenty to be excited about, according to Rúaidhrí O'Connor.
O'Connor was speaking on Off The Ball and understood why both provinces are resting the majority of their internationals for the game, even though fans would have wanted to see the star players.
“If you're on Instagram following all the players you would’ve realised quite early on in the week that none of the [big-name] players were going to play at the weekend.
“It’s a long season. 13 months in total [when including the Rugby World Cup]. So you’ve got to make sure you’re fresh for the big ones. There’s plenty of big ones to come in 2020,” O’Connor said.
However, ahead of next year’s Six Nations campaign under new head coach Andy Farrell, the Irish Independent journalist admitted he would have liked to see two full-strength sides go toe-to-toe.
“It slightly diminished by the [second-choice] teams. We’re used to it now and we expect it. In fairness, the previous two games, Leinster - Ulster and Munster - Connacht - although they probably had a few better players in there, were both good games.
“So they will be good games because they have good players on display but it’s a shame that there’s not fewer games across the season so that these games can get the priority that they deserve.
“Players need a break and we understand why they’re not going to be there but it’s just a shame we’re not seeing a full-blown Irish trial at this time of year just before what’s coming,” O’Connor said.
While it’s unlikely to be as feisty a game as last year’s encounter, there are plenty of young players who will want to make a big impact in the derby game.
“It’s still interesting. There’s still a lot of players with things to gain and things to prove down there. Shane Daly for example - this could be a big Christmas for him. I think he’s playing his way into serious reckoning for Munster.
“We saw Dan Leavy two years ago make his statement in this game, Jordan Larmour two years ago as well - I think it was the same game. Leavy was outstanding that day and Larmour scored that try.
“This is maybe where the general public tune into some of the players hardcore rugby fans have been raving about for a little while. Caelan Doris is starting in Thomond Park so that could be a big one for him.
“He’s in the wider Six Nations squad. So there will be plenty of talking points and interest and it will be fairly evenly matched,” O’Connor said.
Munster and Leinster face off in Thomond Park tonight at 6pm in a Pro14 clash which will see the leaders of Conference A take on the leaders of Conference B.