FormerMunster star Tomás O’Leary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh ahead of Thursday’s historic clash. Photo: Ben Brady/INPHO

History in the Páirc

History will be made tonight, Thursday, as rugby fans prepare to descend on Páirc Uí Chaoimh for Munster's clash against the Springboks.

The GAA stadium will host Munster Rugby for the first time ever in front of 41,000 supporters. It is also the first time that Munster will play a major match in Cork since a 1992 win against Australia.

Thursday night’s match will be the first time in the professional era that Munster Rugby face a South African touring side.

Former Munster Rugby star Tomás O’Leary spoke to the media yesterday ahead of the game.

He said: “It’s going to be a hard one, the most memorable game against the All Blacks in Thomond Park. I was at the game, and it was one of the best atmospheres that I have ever experienced so hopefully this match will be something akin to that.

“With such an inexperienced group most likely to take to the pitch, there’s no expectations and I think it’s almost a free shot.

“If I was a young lad coming in to represent my province early in my career, I’d be frothing at the mouth with the possibility of pitching myself against internationals. Hopefully they will play without fear.”

Tomás O’Leary spoke about who he thinks supporters will be watching this season: “The main player that everyone wants to see at the moment is Jack Crowley, he looks the real deal. I think Munster could really push on with him and have it at the fulcrum of the team. He has the skills and the confidence that he needs, along with the physical profile.

“He is a very exciting player, and I am interested in seeing how he gets on.”

Following last Saturday’s clash between Ireland and South Africa in Dublin, the focus will now be firmly on the home of Cork GAA on Thursday night, with the long-standing history between Munster and South Africa set to add even more intrigue to what is already teeing up to be an enthralling and fascinating fixture.

It will be the first time in 52 years that Munster face the South Africans with a sell-out crowd of 41,400 supporters at Páirc Uí Chaoimh making it the largest-ever attendance at a rugby game in the province.

The team to face South Africa was announced yesterday: Mike Haley, Shane Daly, Antoine Frisch, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Ben Healy, Paddy Patterson, Josh Wycherley, Diarmuid Barron, Roman Salanoa, Edwin Edogbo, Kiran McDonald, Jack O’Donoghue (C), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes with replacements Niall Scannell, Liam O’Connor, Keynan Knox, Cian Hurley, Alex Kendellen, Neil Cronin, Patrick Campbell and Malakai Fekitoa.

Gardaí say the stadium can be accessed by foot only from the city centre via Centre Park Road and Monahan Road. The stadium can be accessed from Boreenmanna Road via Churchyard Lane and onto Maryville. Following the game, everyone should follow the direction of gardaí and stewards.