10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Munster are missing 13 first choice players for tonight's Magners League opener in Cardiff but John Kelly feels the province's young players can more than make up for their absence.
The Heineken Cup champions have a small band of players, including former Wales lock Chris Wyatt, set to make their competitive debuts at the Arms Park and as team captain, Kelly is adamant that the province's newcomers can have a big say in the result.
"It's going to be a tough game - much tougher than a pre-season friendly. This is where the competition begins and we have got to be ready for it," said the experienced centre, who will be skippering Munster for the first time in a representative game.
"It's a big challenge for the new guys on the block, but I think we saw last year that new guys can make a huge impact - you've only got to look at the contribution made by Barry Murphy and Ian Dowling to our success last season."
Munster coach Declan Kidney will have to give youth its chance for the first phase of the league as the province's plethora of Ireland stars are currently going through pre-season conditioning. As well as that, the likes of centres Murphy (broken leg) and Trevor Halstead (knee) and hookers Jerry Flannery and Denis Fogarty (both shoulder) are all currently sidelined due to injury.
"In the context of the Celtic League, you would always want to have your best team out if possible," Kelly told the Irish Examiner, "but it's not always possible, so we have to use it sometimes to bring on the younger players. The more young guys we bring on, the better."
The Corkman's 137th cap - last week's 26-18 friendly defeat to Leicester Tigers - not alone gave him heart for the season ahead, but also Munster's supporters.
He added: "It was an encouraging display from a team that contained a number of new players. It takes time for guys to get used to the systems - defensive and attacking.
"I think some of the young guys surprised a lot of people, but there is a lot of talent in the province, and as long as new players are coming through, then nobody should complain.
"I think the fans were happy with what they saw last week."