In the enforced absence of Anthony Foley, Shannon number 8 Stephen Keogh has been handed the Munster captain's armband for Friday's Celtic League visit to the Cardiff Blues.
CELTIC LEAGUE: Friday, November 4
Cardiff Blues v Munster, Cardiff Arms Park, 7.30pm
One defeat in ten Celtic League games. Quite a record, but Munster travel with a depleted side and the Arms Park has hardly been the most welcoming of grounds over the years - the men in red have lost their on four consecutive occasions.
Cardiff RFC and the Blues both got the edge on Munster in recent seasons.
Despite losing eight players to the Ireland squad - Foley, John Hayes, Marcus Horan, Denis Leamy, Donncha O'Callaghan, Anthony Horgan, Ronan O'Gara and Peter Stringer - Munster coach Declan Kidney, whose side sit top of the Celtic pile, still has a strong hand to pick from.
Keogh, Irish captain at the 2003 Under-21 World Cup, skippers a side that includes five starters from last Saturday's 42-16 Heineken Cup pool win against Castres. Shaun Payne and Trevor Halstead could also start - Kidney is giving them, as well as returning fly-half Paul Burke, as much time as possible to show their fitness for the Cardiff clash.
Vacancies at full-back, inside centre and fly-half have been left for the trio to fill.
Meanwhile, former Connacht back row John O'Sullivan is set to make his first start of the Celtic League campaign having injured a calf muscle in the lead-up to the September 10 fixture with the Ospreys. Shannon's Mossy Lawlor is also back from a shoulder injury, and could being selected on the bench.
New Blues signing Roger Warren, formerly of the Leicester Tigers, will start for the home side at full-back. Blues coach Dai Young has also been hit with eight call-ups to the Wales international squad, including skipper Rhys Williams.
The seventh-placed Blues have won six of their last seven league matches at the Arms Park
Previous Meetings: 03/04: Munster 31 Cardiff 10, Cardiff 60 Munster 14; 04/05: Munster 49 Cardiff 18, Cardiff 30 Munster 20
MUNSTER: 2005/06 CL Form: WWLWWWW (Includes Free weekend); Top Scorers: Points: Ronan O'Gara 41;Tries: Gary Connolly, Marcus Horan, Anthony Horgan, John Kelly 2
CARDIFF: 2005/06 CL Form: LWWWWL (Includes Free Weekend); Top Scorers: Points: Nick Robinson 62; Tries: Craig Morgan, Maama Molitika 2
CARDIFF: Roger Warren; Rhys Williams, Jamie Robinson, Marc Stcherbina, Craig Morgan; Lee Thomas, Ryan Powell; Martin Jones, Gareth Williams, Ben Evans, Deiniol Jones, James Goode, Kort Schubert, Maama Molitika, Andy Powell.
Replacements: Nathan Llewelyn, Duane Goodfield, Craig Quinnell, Mark Lewis, Wayne Evans, Tristan Davies, Dean Dewdney.
MUNSTER: AN Other; John Kelly, Gary Connolly, AN Other, Anton Pitout; AN Other, Tomas O'Leary; Frank Roche, Jerry Flannery, Federico Pucciariello, Trevor Hogan, Mick O'Driscoll, John O'Sullivan, David Wallace, Stephen Keogh (capt).
Replacements (from): Tony Buckley, Eugene McGovern, Denis Fogarty, Shane O'Connor, Frank Cogan, John O'Connor, Mike Prendergast, Paul Burke, Jeremy Manning, Trevor Halstead, Barry Murphy, Shaun Payne, Mossy Lawlor.
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)