Earls returned to the outside centre berth last week after the November internationals and he retains that jersey at the expense of Casey Laulala who offers a very potent back option from the bench.
And with back-rowers Niall Ronan, Sean Dougall, and Tommy O'Donnell all on the injured list, opportunity knocks for Dave O'Callaghan who has been handed the number 6 shirt in what will be his first Heineken Cup start.
O'Callaghan a 22 year old Development contracted player from Youghal came on as a replacement in the final Pool game last season against Northampton Saints and this season has been a regular wearer of that number 6 shirt starting in seven of the Rabo games and benching it against Racing Metro.
Given the blight on the back rows, Coughlan's return is particularly opportune. He 's confounded the medics by a return from a groin tear way ahead of schedule and put in an impressive near full shift against Glasgow Warriors last week here in Thomond Park Stadium.
Munster: F Jones; D Howlett capt, K Earls, J Downey, S Zebo; R O'Gara, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, BJ Botha; D O'Callaghan, D Ryan; Dave O'Callaghan, P O'Mahony, J Coughlan. Replacements: D Varley, W du Preez, S Archer, B Holland, P Butler, D Williams, I Keatley, C Laulala.