Anthony Horgan and Alan Quinlan have been selected in a Munster starting line-up for the first time this season, with the pair set to line out against Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park Stadium on Saturday.
However, scrum half Tomas O’Leary is a late withdrawal with a leg injury. O’Leary was named in the squad earlier in the week and now his place in the selected team goes to Peter Stringer with Mike Prendergast drafted onto the replacements bench.
Anthony Horgan (31) and the 34-year-old Alan Quinlan bring a wealth of experience to the side, having won over 300 caps between them for Munster.
Also back in the starting line-up is Barry Murphy, who teams up with Rua Tipoki in midfield.
Up front, Frankie Sheahan replaces Jerry Flannery and Quinlan’s selection means Donnacha Ryan gets a well-earned rest, forcing a reshuffle in the back row with Justin Melck switching to openside and David Wallace named at number 8.
On the bench, hooker Denis Fogarty, after a hugely impressive showing in the ‘A’ side’s victory over Leinster ‘A’ last weekend, provides the cover for Sheahan while Mick O’Driscoll, Niall Ronan and Kieran Lewis are other newcomers to the replacements from last Sunday.
While a huge amount of public interest in the lead-up to this game has centred on Munster’s return to their new majestic Thomond Park Stadium, coach Tony McGahan has refused to get distracted from the task in hand.
“It is of course going to be a marvellous occasion and it’s a great tribute to those involved in the construction to bring it to this stage so quickly,” McGahan said.
“But at the end of the day for us it’s a Magners League game, there are points on offer and we really can’t let ourselves approach this game in any different frame of mind than any other game.
“It’s also our final run-out before the Heineken Cup kicks off and again an opportunity for selected players to put their hands up.”
With that in mind, does McGahan have a clearer picture of what side will begin the defence of the European title?
“Well you think you do and then you get performances as we did from players in the ‘A’ game last week in Dublin and it sets you thinking again.
“But that’s a good place to be and a credit to this squad. A credit to their hard work and their ambition.
“Of course there is a core to this side for Saturday that won’t change for the game against (Montauban) but there are places still to be decided and opportunities there,” he added.
MUNSTER (v Glasgow Warriors): Keith Earls; Doug Howlett, Barry Murphy, Rua Tipoki, Anthony Horgan, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Frankie Sheahan, John Hayes, Paul O’Connell (capt), Donncha O’Callaghan, Alan Quinlan, Justin Melck, David Wallace.
Replacements: Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll, Niall Ronan, Mike Prendergast, Paul Warwick, Kieran Lewis.