The Munster team announced today for the Magners League semi-final against the Ospreys shows nine changes, including two positional switches, to the side that beat Connacht last weekend.
The positional changes will see youngster Danny Barnes wearing the number 13 jersey this time around while, with Donncha O’Callaghan restored to the second row, Donnacha Ryan will start in the back row at the expense of Denis Leamy.
Although just six players retain their positions from the 22-6 victory over Connacht, there is just one change in back-line and one change in the starting pack from the side that garnered a tight victory over the Ospreys in Swansea three weeks ago.
The change up front comes in the shape of team captain Paul O’Connell who was unavailable that night, and Barnes is the only alteration in the backs.
Despite being runaway winners of the league proper, Munster could see all the hard work undone this weekend if they lose to last season’s champions.
But the province’s hooker Damien Varley insisted: “We knew the format setting out. We’d set our sights initially on a home semi-final so as to give ourselves the best possible chance to win the title. We’ve achieved that.
“We’ll take this as a single game. It’s a stepping stone to winning a trophy. We’re where we wanted to be, in with a shot at a final.”
MUNSTER (v Ospreys): Felix Jones; Doug Howlett, Danny Barnes, Lifeimi Mafi, Keith Earls; Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray; Marcus Horan, Damien Varley, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Donnacha Ryan, David Wallace, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Mike Sherry, Wian du Preez, Stephen Archer, Denis Leamy, Niall Ronan, Peter Stringer, Paul Warwick, Simon Zebo.