Second row Mick O’Driscoll will win his 130th competitive Munster cap when he leads the province against Connacht in Sunday’s Magners League showdown at the Sportsground (kick-off 6pm).
O’Driscoll’s last time skippering the Munster side was against the All Blacks and on Sunday he will have only four of the pack that started that night alongside him.
But the back-line remains almost in its entirety from the one that played on that memorable November night.
Munster coach Tony McGahan is only too aware of the difficult task facing Munster this weekend.
“There is no difference in the scale of difficulty when you play against any of the other Irish sides. They’re local debies simple as that and that gives them that extra edge,” he said.
“Playing Connacht away is every bit as tough as playing Ulster in Ravenhill or Leinster in Dublin. And we only have to remember past games down at the Sportsground to realise what we’ll be up against on Sunday.
“Last year for example, I think we were just barely ahead, a point or two, when we scored a late try that Rog (Ronan O’Gara) converted but there was nothing in it right throughout.
“It was same the year before and there a few 3-0 wins as well. This season they’ve beaten Glasgow and Leinster (here) and they are coming into this game on foot of a good Challenge Cup run so we’re under no illusions about the scale of the task we face on Sunday.”
MUNSTER (v Connacht): Keith Earls; Doug Howlett, Barry Murphy, Lifeimi Mafi, Ian Dowling; Paul Warwick, Peter Stringer; Federico Pucciariello, Jerry Flannery, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, David Wallace.
Replacements: Frankie Sheahan, Timmy Ryan, James Coughlan, Nick Williams, Mike Prendergast, Jeremy Manning, Denis Hurley.