Munster have made just one change for the return game against Saracens at Vicarage Road on Sunday with Casey Laulala coming into the side in place of the injured Keith Earls.
Keith Earls trained in Limerick on Tuesday but later complained of groin trouble. With the Ireland international being forced out, Casey Laulala resumes the centre partnership he enjoyed with James Downey for the Racing Metro 92 and Edinburgh games earlier in the Heineken Cup.
On Tuesday at the pre-match press conference, Munster head coach Rob Penney had expressed concern over several players, including the versatile Earls.
But there was no further cause for concern after the likes of Simon Zebo, BJ Botha and recent Heineken Cup debutant David O’Callaghan all came through training this morning in Cork.
Luke O’Dea has been withdrawn from the province’s ‘A’ squad for tonight’s British & Irish Cup match against Rotherham Titans at Musgrave Park (kick-off 6.30pm).
Instead, the Shannon clubman will travel to London on Saturday having won a spot on the senior squad’s bench. The round 4 tie marks back rower James Coughlan’s 100th competitive appearance for Munster.
The 32-year-old Coughlan made his debut back in 2006 having been brought into the squad as a development-contracted player by then head coach Declan Kidney.
He again showed his huge worth to Munster with a man-of-the-match display in last Saturday’s round 3 win over Saracens at Thomond Park.
His ball-carrying ability and gobbling up of Sarries’ restarts, allied to his energy and work-rate at the breakdown, left an impression on Penney who beamed afterwards: “I think he was just terrific for us.
“I know there are some great loosies hanging around in Ireland at the moment, but James? We know what his strengths are and he plays to them so well. Jeepers, he would wear the green jersey very, very well.”
MUNSTER (v Saracens): Felix Jones; Doug Howlett (capt), Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray; David Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, Donnacha Ryan, David O’Callaghan, Peter O’Mahony, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Paddy Butler, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Luke O’Dea.