Munster head coach Tony McGahan has selected a 27-man squad for the Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Harlequins at Thomond Park on Saturday (kick-off 1pm).
The panel includes all 23 players who were on duty for the quarter-final victory over Brive, with Denis Hurley, Stephen Archer, Ian Nagle and Tommy O’Donnell also pushing for selection.
The province’s regular captain Paul O’Connell misses out as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury, with Mick O’Driscoll set to resume alongside Donnacha O’Callaghan in the second row.
Former Ireland full-back Conor O’Shea is the Harlequins director of rugby, and keenly aware of the task facing his team on Saturday afternoon.
“Thomond Park is the ultimate challenge in European competition so our intensity levels will have to be really high,” said O’Shea, who was born in Limerick in October 1970.
“The players are really excited about the prospect of a European semi-final and this is certainly a big match for us.
“All I can ever ask of my team is that they give everything to the performance – then it’s simply a case of the best men win so we will see what happens.
“This is all about Harlequins playing in a semi-final rather than about me. Obviously I always enjoy going home and I will look forward to taking the team there as I would for any big occasion. We are all looking forward to it immensely.
“Harlequins have won this competition twice before but it is now harder than ever to win because the introduction of the Heineken Cup teams has taken it to another level.”
He added: “If you just look at the semi-finalists of the Amlin Challenge Cup, none of them would look out of place gracing the last four of the Heineken Cup.
“We’ve experienced it all in the Amlin Challenge Cup this season. We were virtually flooded in Bayonne and they were bailing hay in the snow at Connacht, but this has been a great competition to be involved with.”
Munster are on a run of eight straight wins at present, across the Magners League and Amlin Challenge Cup, and boast a formidable home record.
Leicester Tigers, who were victorious in Limerick in January 2007, remain the only club to have beaten Munster at Thomond Park in European competition.
MUNSTER Squad (v Harlequins) – Backs (11): Johne Murphy, Felix Jones, Denis Hurley, Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Sam Tuitupou, Lifeimi Mafi, Paul Warwick, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, Conor Murray.
Forwards (16): Marcus Horan, Wian du Preez, John Hayes, Tony Buckley, Stephen Archer, Damien Varley, Mike Sherry, Donnncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Ian Nagle, Tommy O’Donnell, David Wallace, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan, Denis Leamy.