The Ireland Seven international was part of a superb Munster back row unit - along with Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy and replacement Billy Holland - that ran the All Blacks so close last season.
Coughlan, who plays regularly for Dolphin in the AIB League, has being one of Munster's stand-out players so far in the inaugural British & Irish Cup this season, and is relishing the opportunity that Saturday's game presents.
"Yes, I'm really looking forward to the game at the Liberty. There is huge competition here in Munster for places in the back row and a good healthy rivalry among those of us looking for the jersey," he said.
"I wouldn't say there's any niggle in training but it is competitive. It has to be and if it wasn't, we wouldn't be as successful a squad as we are."
Four of the changes are up front where newcomer Wian du Preez replaces Julien Brugnaut, John Hayes is back in place of Stephen Archer, Coughlan comes in for Denis Leamy and Niall Ronan will start in place of David Wallace.
The one change in the back-line sees Doug Howlett back for the first time since injuring a hamstring against Benetton Treviso in mid-October.
MUNSTER (v Ospreys): Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Jean de Villiers, Lifeimi Mafi, Keith Earls; Ronan O'Gara, Tomas O'Leary; Wian du Preez, Denis Fogarty, John Hayes, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell (capt), Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Tony Buckley, Donnacha Ryan, Nick Williams, Peter Stringer, Denis Hurley, Ian Dowling.