Experienced scrum half Peter Stringer will wear the number 9 jersey in place of Duncan Williams, who was in from the kick-off for last weekend's pre-season win over London Irish.
Ian Nagle picked up a shoulder knock against Irish, so Billy Holland will partner Mick O'Driscoll in the engine room and Coughlan's return means a switch for Peter O'Mahony to the blindside flanker role.
Nagle's injury is not serious and he is expected to be in contention for next week's game against Glasgow Warriors.
Included on what looks a particularly strong replacements bench are international duo Tomas O'Leary and John Hayes, who are bound to be pressed into action at some stage of the evening.
Tickets are on sale for Saturday's game online here and from the following locations - the ticket offices in Cork (Tramore Road) and Limerick (Thomond Park), the Munster Rugby Store, Maylor Street, Ticketmaster outlet, Merchant's Quay, Mahers Sports, Oliver Plunkett Street, and Cummins Sports, Douglas Shopping Centre.
Tickets will be on sale on matchday at Musgrave Park from 12pm outside the Dolphin Gate.
MUNSTER (v Newport Gwent Dragons): Johne Murphy; Doug Howlett, Danny Barnes, Lifeimi Mafi, Denis Hurley; Ian Keatley, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Mike Shery, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Mick O'Driscoll, Peter O'Mahony, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, John Hayes, Dave Foley, Tommy O'Donnell, Tomas O'Leary, Scott Deasy, Simon Zebo.