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RaboDirect Pro12 match preview: Munster ring the changes
There are five changes in personnel for Munster when they host Ospreys at Thomond Park on Saturday in the RaboDirect Pro12.
Three of those changes unsurprising in that they accommodate the return of internationals Ronan O'Gara and Dave Kilcoyne, and skipper Doug Howlett.
The other notable change is at scrum-half where opportunity knocks for Cathal Sheridan, who makes his first competitive start for Munster.
Head coach Rob Penney continues to rotate Garryowen clubmates Damien Varley and Mike Sherry, Varley getting the nod for the number 2 jersey this time around.
Penney keeps faith with the back five selected for Treviso even though Niall Ronan was back in the mix after 80 minutes with Shannon at the weekend. Sean Dougal is preferred as back-row back up to CJ Stander who is omitted from the match day squad.
Alun Wyn Jones captains the Ospreys after returning for Wales last weekend in the national side's win over Italy in Rome.
Kahn Fotuali'i reverts back to his regular position of scrum-half with Ashley Beck's selection at inside centre pushing Tom Issacs out onto the wing.
Duncan Jones starts at loosehead prop ahead of Ryan Bevington, with Jonathan Thomas moving to number eight following the selection of Jones in the second row.
Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Doug Howlett (c), 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Denis Hurley, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Cathal Sheridan, 8 James Coughlan. 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Paddy Butler, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Ian Nagle, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Damien Varley, 1 David Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Sean Dougall, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Ivan Dineen.
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Habberfield, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Tom Issacs, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 James King, 5 Lloyd Peers, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 3 Cai Griffiths, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Arthur Ellis/Sam Davies, 22 Rhyss Webb, 23 Tom Grabham
What they said...
Ospreys boss Steve Tandy
"It's important that we put in a big performance on Saturday night.
"Having suffered two defeats on the road, Munster will be happy to be back at Thomond Park where they have an enviable record and will want to secure the win that will cut the gap between us going into the final five rounds.
"With four of the last six games away from home we understand the size of the task in front of us but we believe in ability of this squad to rise to the challenge.
It's not going to be easy but they've shown throughout the season that they won't take a backward step and never know when they're beaten.
"We'll need to see that spirit in every game between now and the end of the season, they'll need to give everything for the cause, and if we see that from them then we've got a real chance of reaching the last four once again."
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Friday 6th March|
|19:35||Cardiff Blues vs Connacht|
|19:35||Glasgow Warriors vs Zebre|
|Saturday 7th March|
|14:40||Ospreys vs Munster|
|17:15||Scarlets vs Leinster|
|18:00||Treviso vs Edinburgh|
|Sunday 8th March|
|16:00||Dragons vs Ulster|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:35||Leinster vs Glasgow|
|19:35||Ulster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 28th March|
|TBC||Benetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Ospreys vs Zebre|
|14:40||Scarlets vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Munster vs Connacht|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Cardiff Blues|
|19:35||Benetton Treviso vs Ospreys|
|Saturday 11th April|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Munster|
|TBC||Zebre vs Scarlets|
|14:40||Connacht vs Ulster|
|Sunday 12th April|
|16:00||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Leinster|
|Friday 24th April|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Zebre|
|19:35||Ulster vs Leinster|
|Saturday 25th April|
|TBC||Munster vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Cardiff Blues vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Scarlets|
|TBC||Connacht vs Glasgow|
|Saturday 9th May|
|TBC||Ulster vs Munster|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Connacht 53 - 5 Treviso|
|Zebre 23 - 17 Dragons|
|Cardiff Blues 21 - 15 Edinburgh|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Munster 22 - 10 Glasgow Warriors|
|Friday 27th February|
|Ospreys 9 - 9 Leinster|
|Ulster 25 - 20 Scarlets|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|Dragons 25 - 30 Connacht|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Glasgow 19 - 16 Ospreys|
|Scarlets 25 - 25 Munster|
|Friday 20th February|
|Edinburgh 17 - 20 Ulster|
|Leinster 29 - 8 Zebre|
|Benetton Treviso 40 - 24 Cardiff Blues|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Leinster 14 - 16 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Zebre 10 - 54 Glasgow|
|Scarlets 32 - 14 Connacht|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Munster 33 - 16 Cardiff Blues|
|Friday 13th February|
|Edinburgh 24 - 16 Ospreys|
|Ulster 43 - 3 Benetton Treviso|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com