Both Leinster and Munster have named enlarged squads in the lead-up to Sunday's Celtic League derby clash at Musgrave Park.
CELTIC LEAGUE: October 9
Munster v Leinster, Musgrave Park, 3.00pm (live Setanta Sports)
Only a single point separates the provinces at the business end of the league table so a tight encounter can be expected this weekend with both outfits showing good early season form.
Munster, with home advantage, do have the edge with just one defeat in their last ten games. It has also been quite a while since Leinster were victorious against their red-shirted interpro rivals - 1998 was the last time Leinster won in Munster, whilst the last time they won in Cork was back in 1985 during the Interprovincial Championship.
Will statistics worry current Leinster boss Michael Cheika? Not likely, the amiable Australian is only concerned with the here and now and has named his strongest available squad for the trip south.
Adam Byrnes and Guy Easterby, who sustained a broken jaw in last Saturday's heartening 30-23 defeat of Ulster, are sidelined as well as Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll, but Cheika still has a formidable line-up to choose from.
UCD scrum-half Brian O'Riordan comes in as cover for the injured Easterby while the 28-man squad includes Ireland internationals Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie, Gordon D'Arcy and Reggie Corrigan.
Felipe Contepomi, the league's top points scorer with 74, will have to have the same dead-eye accuracy he showed against Ulster if Leinster are to take a prized win. Cheika will reduce his squad to 22 tomorrow.
Meanwhile, with Peter Stringer injurying his knee at training this week, Munster will be forced dig into their scrum-half reserves for Sunday, and youngster Tomas O'Leary, last year's "Outstanding Player" in the province's Academy, could get the nod ahead of Stringer's regular deputies Frank Murphy and Mike Prendergast.
Coach Declan Kidney has named a 25-man squad for the fixture with his former employers. Anthon Pitout - the province's new signing who arrived from South Africa on Monday - has been included with little time before Munster's Heineken Cup campaign begins. Two-try hero from last weekend in Connacht, Garry Connolly could start again.
Shaun Payne is also back in contention after a period out with shoulder and neck injuries.
The Munster starting XV will be confirmed tomorrow afternoon.
MUNSTER Squad: Backs: Ian Dowling, Shaun Payne, Anthon Pitout, Barry Murphy, John Kelly, Gary Connolly, Trevor Halstead, Ronan O'Gara, Paul Burke, Frank Murphy, Tomas O'Leaikery, M Prendergast.
Forwards: Federico Pucciarello, Marcus Horan, Frankie Sheahan, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Donncha O'Callaghan, Mick O'Driscoll, Trevor Hogan, Alan Quinlan, Denis Leamy, David Wallace, Stephen Keogh, Anthony Foley.
LEINSTER Squad: Backs: Brian O'Meara, Brian O'Riordan, Eoghan Hickey, Christian Warner, Felipe Contepomi (Capt), Kieran Lewis, Shane Horgan, Robert Kearney, Denis Hickie, Brendan Burke, Gary Brown, Gordon D'Arcy, Girvan Dempsey.
Forwards: Reggie Corrigan, Ronan McCormack, Will Green, Emmett Byrne, Bernard Jackman, David Blaney, Bryce Williams, Ben Gissing, Des Dillon, Simon Crawford, Ciaran Potts, Keith Gleeson, Niall Ronan, Eric Miller, Jamie Heaslip.
Referee: Simon McDowell (Ulster)