Munster face their second home league encounter in the space of six days, and will be determined to put in an improved showing after they were undone by the high-flying Scarlets in Cork.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, December 1
MUNSTER (6th) v GLASGOW WARRIORS (3rd), Thomond Park, 7.45pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)
Team News: A number of Ireland internationals will be back on duty for Munster when they entertain Glasgow Warriors in Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Thomond Park.
Ireland internationals Keith Earls, Simon Zebo, Ronan O’Gara, Donncha O’Callaghan and Donnacha Ryan all return to the Munster starting line-up, along with the province’s latest Test-capped player, prop David Kilcoyne.
Just as importantly, number 8 James Coughlan returns to the fray a week ahead of the Heineken Cup round 3 showndown with Saracens following a lengthy lay-off.
South African newcomer CJ Stander will make his first start in the back row, following his debut off the bench in last Sunday’s defeat to the Scarlets in Cork.
Munster, who lie in fifth place in the league, can ill-afford to lose to Glasgow as they look to maintain their push for a play-off berth.
Earls returns to partner James Downey in the centre with Zebo replacing Luke O’Dea on the left wing and O’Gara taking over from Ian Keatley at out-half.
Hooker Mike Sherry is the only survivor in the forwards as head coach Rob Penney makes changes in all three lines.
The fit-again Coughlan and Tommy O’Donnell link up with Stander in the back row, O’Callaghan and Ryan form the second row combination and Kilcoyne and BJ Botha will flank Sherry in the front row.
Meanwhile, young out-half Duncan Weir returns to the Glasgow Warriors starting line-up and Stuart Hogg, Ryan Grant and captain Al Kellock will also start for Gregor Townsend’s side in Limerick.
The 21-year-old Weir has had a frustrating two months on the sidelines after injurying his knee when colliding with a goalpost during a training game of ‘kick tennis’ in September.
As well as Weir returning to the number 10 jersey, Henry Pyrgos, who made his Scotland debut during the November international series, is back in the scrum half position.
Hogg starts in the centre alongside Peter Horne, with Peter Murchie filling the full-back berth. Sean Lamont has been restored to the line-up on his return from Scotland duty with DTH van der Merwe on the opposite wing.
In the pack, John Barclay replaces Chris Fusaro at openside flanker with Fusaro having picked up a knock against Leinster last time out. Barclay teams up with Rob Harley and Ryan Wilson in an all-action back row.
Warriors skipper Kellock is also restored, partnering Tim Swinson in the engine room with Grant, Dougie Hall and Mike Cusack combining in the front row.
MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Doug Howlett (capt), Keith Earls, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ronan O’Gara, Duncan Williams; David Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, Donnacha Ryan, CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Paddy Butler, Peter Stringer, Ian Keatley, Casey Laulala.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Peter Murchie; Sean Lamont, Stuart Hogg, Peter Horne, DTH van der Merwe; Duncan Weir, Henry Pyrgos; Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall, Mike Cusack, Tim Swinson, Al Kellock (capt), Rob Harley, John Barclay, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Moray Low, Gordon Reid, Josh Strauss, James Eddie, Niko Matawalu, Scott Wight, Byron McGuigan.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, John Carvill (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/5; Draw: 22/1; Glasgow Warriors to win: 7/2
Pre-Match Quotes: David Kilcoyne (Munster) – “This game is so important for us especially after last weekend’s defeat. There are points that we need to get and I think we need to put together a huge performance if we’re to do that.
“I’ve been delighted to be involved with Ireland over the last couple of weeks, but in a way I’m very happy to be back with the lads. We’ve a huge weekend ahead so looking forward to that now.
“Being involved with the Irish team, just the feeling after such a good win against a quality side (like Argentina) was one of the best I’ve ever probably experienced.
“And then even getting on the pitch, for however many minutes it was, was absolutely a dream come true for myself and my family.
“I suppose having the competition (here at Munster) between myself, Marcus (Horan) and Wian (du Preez), it drives us all on.
“Having a competitive squad brings out the best in everyone and that strength in depth has brought the best out in players. Hopefully that’s something going forward that we can keep building on.”
Gregor Townsend (Glasgow Warriors) – “We know how tough it’s going to be at Thomond Park, they’ve only been beaten there once in the past twelve months.
“They are a more expansive side than they once were and they will be looking to extend that fantastic home record. We’ve got to able to match them physically if we are to have a chance of winning over there.
“I’m delighted that we can put out a strong side this weekend though and with a number of our Scotland boys back in the team, we’ll be doing everything we can to come back from Ireland with that elusive positive result.
“We’ve got a huge amount of competition for places in the squad and it leaves me with difficult, but ultimately good decisions to have to make.
“It’s great to have Duncan (Weir) back in the team, as he’s been itching to play again since returning to full fitness after an unfortunate training injury a couple of months ago.”
Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 68; Tries: Tommy O’Donnell 3; Glasgow Warriors – Points: Tommy Seymour, DTH van der Merwe 25 each; Tries: Tommy Seymour, DTH van der Merwe 5 each
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, September 4, 2009 – Munster 22 Glasgow Warriors 9, Firhill Stadium
Friday, March 26, 2010 – Munster 27 Glasgow Warriors 19, Thomond Park
Friday, September 24, 2010 – Glasgow Warriors 29 Munster 43, Firhill Stadium
Saturday. January 8, 2011 – Munster 22 Glasgow Warriors 20, Musgrave Park
Friday, September 9, 2011 – Glasgow Warriors 12 Munster 23, Firhill Stadium
Saturday, April 14, 2012 – Munster 35 Glasgow Warriors 29, Musgrave Park
– Munster’s three-match winning run in all competitions ended at home to the Scarlets in Cork last Sunday
– The Munstermen’s only defeat at Thomond Park in the RaboDirect PRO12 in the last twelve months was 18-9 to Leinster on March 31
– Munster have lost just one of their last dozen games against Scottish opponents
– Glasgow Warriors’ fine run of six straight PRO12 victories ended in a 6-0 defeat at home to Leinster last Friday, only the second time in league history that the Warriors have been ‘nilled’
– Glasgow’s only win in their last 14 visits to Ireland since 2009 was a 23-19 success at Leinster in September 2011
– Munster have won their last five encounters with Glasgow. The Warriors have not won at Thomond Park since February 2006