Munster coach Declan Kidney has made four changes – three in the backs – to his team for tomorrow’s Heineken Cup Pool 5 clash with defending champions Wasps (Ricoh Arena, kick-off 5.30pm).
Ronan O’Gara, the match winner against Edinburgh last week, will captain the team in the injury enforced absence of lock Paul O’Connell (back strain).
Three of Kidney’s four changes are in the back-line with Shaun Payne, the province’s team manager this season, replacing Denis Hurley at full-back, Anthony Horgan returning from injury in place of Ian Dowling on the left wing and Rua Tipoki preferred to Kieran Lewis in midfield.
Up front, the one alteration in the pack sees Marcus Horan, who helped Shannon to an AIB League win over Garryowen last week, returns to the loosehead prop position in place of Federico Pucciariello. The only change on the bench sees Dowling take the place vacated by Heineken Cup debutant Tipoki.
The tournament’s most-capped player, Anthony Foley, looks set to have an impact role off a bench that also includes former New Zealand Maori back rower Jake Paringatai.
Speaking at this week’s Heineken Cup launch in Dublin, coach Kidney said: “Every match is going to be like a cup final, but that is what makes the competition so special – having 12 matches like that every weekend just to get out of the pool stages.
“There is no competition like it in the world. Wasps is as tough an encounter as you can get given the way Wasps came back in the last 20 minutes against Gloucester (last Sunday). That was a top win against a quality side.
“It is a great game (for us this weekend) and we are looking forward to it, but it is as tough as it gets so we are looking forward to it with a combination of excitement and fear.
“Without doubt there are things we can work on, but I am not too unhappy with the way we are going either,” he added.
MUNSTER (v Wasps): Shaun Payne; Brian Carney, Rua Tipoki, Lifeimi Mafi, Anthony Horgan; Ronan O’Gara (capt), Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy.
Replacements:: Frankie Sheahan, Tony Buckley, Anthony Foley, Jake Paringatai, Tomas O’Leary, Paul Warwick, Ian Dowling.