The Munster team to face Cardiff Blues in Wales on Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm) has been named with Jack O’Donoghue set to captain the province for the first time at senior level.
The Waterford man, who turned 24 last week, has previously captained Munster ‘A’ along with Waterpark, Munster and Ireland at underage level.
There are 10 changes to the team that recorded a bonus point win over Zebre at Thomond Park last Saturday night. Stephen Fitzgerald, fresh from signing a new contract, comes in at full-back for his first start of the season, while Ronan O’Mahony also makes his first start of the season on the left wing after a long-term injury, with Darren Sweetnam on the opposite flank.
Ireland international Rory Scannell comes back into the side to partner Sam Arnold in the centre with Ian Keatley, who was an influential replacement along with Scannell against Zebre, partnering Duncan Williams at half-back.
A completely new front row sees Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall and Stephen Archer all return to the starting XV. Gerbrandt Grobler makes his first PRO14 start and partners Darren O’Shea in the second row as the Crosshaven man makes his ninth appearance of the campaign.
Captain Jack O’Donoghue and number 8 Robin Copeland, who impressed as the province’s man-of-the-match in the last round, keep their places in the back row with Chris Cloete returning this weekend at openside flanker.
In the replacements, out-half Tyler Bleyendaal returns from a neck injury and could make his first appearance since the Champions Cup first round clash in Castres last October. Hooker Mike Sherry is in line for his third appearance of the season, while props James Cronin and Stephen Archer are also on the bench.
Flanker Dave O’Callaghan is set for his second appearance of the season after returning from a knee injury, with Jean Kleyn providing the second row cover. Scrum half James Hart could make his first appearance since December, and Simon Zebo completes the matchday 23.
MUNSTER (v Cardiff Blues): Stephen Fitzgerald; Darren Sweetnam, Sam Arnold, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan, Gerbrandt Grobler, Darren O’Shea, Jack O’Donoghue (capt), Chris Cloete, Robin Copeland.
Replacements: Mike Sherry, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Dave O’Callaghan, James Hart, Tyler Bleyendaal, Simon Zebo.