Dave Ryan will make only his second ever start in the Magners League as Munster look to strengthen their grip on top spot by beating the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday (kick-off 7.05pm).
Munster coach Tony McGahan has made four changes to the team that started last Sunday’s hard-fought win over the Scarlets in Cork.
Ireland international Tomas O’Leary makes a welcome return at scrum half, having recovered from a broken thumb. He replaces the injured Duncan Williams (ankle) in the starting line-up.
Friday’s game will mark O’Leary’s first appearance for Munster since sustaining the injury against Leinster in early October.
Lifeimi Mafi also returns from suspension and has been included amongst the replacements.
Up front, Dave Ryan gets a chance to impress at loosehead prop and veteran John Hayes replaces Kiwi recruit Peter Borlase on the tighthead side of the scrum.
The final change sees Tommy O’Donnell take the blindside flanker berth, with Peter O’Mahony dropping to the bench.
Pleased to have O’Leary and Mafi back available, Munster team manager Shaun Payne said: “Tomas has recovered from his thumb injury. He’s been training with us to a limited degree.
“We didn’t want him to do damage. He’s had his recovery period now and he’s fit and ready to go.
“Lifeimi has been caged up for the last seven weeks. It’s been difficult for him. We’ve been relatively successful over the last couple of weeks with the Australia game, a good performance up in Ulster, and with 21 contracted players missing we still managed to win against the Scarlets.
“There is a good feeling in the squad at the moment and it’s been difficult for Mafs to sit and watch that.
“He’s also raring to get back into it and make a contribution. There is only so much training you can do.”
MUNSTER (v Newport Gwent Dragons): Johne Murphy; Doug Howlett (capt), Barry Murphy, Sam Tuitupou, Denis Hurley; Paul Warwick, Tomas O’Leary; Dave Ryan, Mike Sherry, John Hayes, Billy Holland, Ian Nagle, Tommy O’Donnell, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Sean Henry, Wian du Preez, Peter Borlase, Brian Hayes, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Scott Deasy, Lifeimi Mafi.