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.
For his part, Cusack's only other start for Munster was against Connacht last April. Also in the starting line-up of 22-year-old lock Ian Nagle and winger Simon Zebo, who will be 21 later this month.
There is plenty of experience across the province's starting line-up in the form of Doug Howlett and Paul Warwick in the backs, and the returning Marcus Horan and Denis Fogarty, stand-in captain Mick O'Driscoll, James Coughlan and Denis Leamy up front.
In all, head coach Tony McGahan has made seven changes in personnel to the team that defeated Aironi 20-10 last Sunday.
Horan and Fogarty join the 23-year-old Stephen Archer in the front row, with Leamy's inclusion at number 8 seeing Coughlan switch to openside flanker and Tommy O'Donnell revert to the replacements.
There are four Ireland internationals on the selected bench, including Peter Stringer who saw action in the second half at Murrayfield last Sunday.
MUNSTER (v Newport Gwent Dragons): Johne Murphy; Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi, Paul Warwick, Simon Zebo; Declan Cusack, Conor Murray; Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, Stephen Archer, Ian Nagle, Mick O'Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, James Coughlan, Denis Leamy.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, Tony Buckley, Alan Quinlan, Tommy O'Donnell, Peter Stringer, Sam Tuitupou, Danny Barnes.