In the pack, the front row is unchanged while Billy Holland partners Mick O'Driscoll in the second row and Tommy O'Donnell takes over form the injured Niall Ronan in the back row.
O'Donnell is set to win his tenth Munster senior cap while across from him in that back row will be another Clanwilliam man in Alan Quinlan who, in winning his 189th cap, is closing in on the province's record held by Anthony Foley (201).
Commenting on the caps record, Quinlan said: "I'd have to say it's not something I've been giving any thought to really, more concentrating on the job in hand.
"This is a big game for us. This is a very tight league, very competitive and our ambition is to be involved in the play-offs.
"Our away form hasn't been good and that's something we're very aware of and looking to correct. But in saying that, Rodney Parade is never an easy place to go to get a result.
"The Dragons have improved immensely from when we played them, they've beaten Leinster here and last time out they drew at Ravenhill. That makes them a very good side.
"I've no doubt they'll be up for this one big-time, so we can expect nothing less than a game of huge intensity that will go right down to the wire."
Once again, Munster coach Tony McGahan makes use of his young bloods with highly-regarded Academy pair Ian Nagle and Scott Deasy named on the replacements bench, alongside Duncan Williams and Ciaran O'Boyle who scored a superb try in this fixture last season.
MUNSTER (v Newport Gwent Dragons): Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi, Jean de Villiers, Denis Hurley; Ronan O'Gara (capt), Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Mick O'Driscoll, Billy Holland, Alan Quinlan, Tommy O'Donnell, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Julien Brugnaut, Ian Nagle, Nick Williams, Duncan Williams, Scott Deasy, Ciaran O'Boyle.