4 Dec, 10:19
Grand Slam winners Fiona Coghlan and Nora Stapelton have returned the Women's RBS 6 Nations trophy to Chief Executive John Feehan at the Six Nations offices in Dublin.
It shows three changes to the starting team that beat NEC Harlequins in Thomond Park last weekend. The biggest talking point is the inclusion of David Wallace at open side in place of Irish Autumn squad member Denis Leamy. This represents a big opportunity for Wallace to impress the Irish Management and push for inclusion in one of the remaining spots in the autumn squad that will be filled after the weekend.
Donncha O'Callaghan and Shaun Payne also come into the team after recovering from recent injuries to take their places. With the inclusion of Payne at outside centre, John Kelly moves to the wing, with Mossy Lawlor moving to the bench. Trevor Hogan also moves to the bench to accommodate the return of O'Callaghan.
Gaffney must have been a happy man to come out of the Harlequins game with a clean bill of health from his players. The dreadful conditions did not lend themselves to free flowing rugby and inevitably the game ended up a bruising close quarter's battle against a physical and hardened side.
But as always, Munster had the necessary gas in the tank to cope and came out on top. The tight score line at the end did not really reflect the game as Munster played the majority of the rugby, but the close finish will certainly have had all in Thomond Park feeling a little uneasy.
Munster will be hoping for better weather in Swansea on Sunday against an Ospreys side that were well beaten by an impressive Castres Olympique side. But this has not dulled the threat that they pose Munster. Their form in the Celtic league has been impressive with seven straight victories propelling them to the top of the table. Their two main stars, Gavin Henson and the illusive Shane Williams, are the real danger men for Munster with Welsh International centre Sonny Parker also in good form.
The early evidence from the Harlequins match is that Munster have added a stronger attacking element to their backs this season, so a firm playing surface will be top of the wish list for Gaffney. Before that happens, the pack will again be expected to deliver against an Ospreys eight who are no pushovers.
Munster team v Neath-Swansea Ospreys:
15 - C. Cullen 14 - J. Kelly 13 - S. Payne 12 - R. Henderson 11 - A. Horgan 10 - R. O'Gara 9 - P. Stringer 1 - M. Horan 2 - F. Sheahan 3 - J. Hayes 4 - D. O'Callaghan 5 - P. O'Connell 6 - J. Williams 7 - D. Wallace 8 - A. Foley (Captain) Replacements 16 - J. Flannery 17 - G. McIlwham 18 - T. Hogan 19 - A. Quinlan 20 - M. Prendergast 21 - P. Burke 22 - M. Lawlor.