Munster set out today on the first step of a three week block that could go a long way in determining their fate in this season’s RaboDirect PRO12.
They’re in Wales for the game against Scarlets, the side directly above them (by one point) and secure in the knowledge that a win would put them into the top four ahead of the trip next weekend to Italy (Italy).
After these two weekends on the road it’s home to Ospreys whose defeat last night in Galway presents the opportunity for Munster to leapfrog them in the table.
They have just one change from the original selection, Damien Varley forced to withdraw having failed a late fitness test (knee), Sean Henry providing the cover to first time skipper Mike Sherry.
With Ronan O’Gara back from international camp Ian Keatley is switched to full-back and another returning international, Donncha O’Callaghan partners Ian Nagle in the second row with Billy Holland slipping to a bench that includes Casey Laulala who is back after a sojourn at home in New Zealand..
Scarlets also have internationals back in the shape of Liam Williams and Josh Turnbull with coach Simon Easterby making three changes to the side that started against Connacht here last time out.
His side number Ospreys and Leinster among their victims at Parc Y Scarlets and Easterby in recognising the importance of tonight’s fixture said. “It’s tight at the top of the table, so this game is a huge one for both sides as it’s a chance to take points from each other. It was a good performance last weekend in Galway, but there’s still a lot of work to do and we have to back that up with a performance this weekend.
“But we’ll have to improve if we’re to get a result against Munster tonight.”
Munster: I Keatley; D Hurley, I Dineen, JJ Hanrahan, J Murphy; R O’Gara, D Williams; W du Preez, M Sherry capt, BJ Botha; D O’Callaghan, I Nagle; CJ Stander, T O’Donnell, P Butler. Replacements: S Henry, J Ryan, S Archer, B Holland, S Dougall, C Sheridan, D Barnes, C Laulala.
Scarlets: G Owen; L Williams, G Maule, A Warren, A Fenby; O Williams, A Davies; P John, E Phillips, J Adriaanse; G Earle, J Snyman; R McCusker capt, J Turnbull, K Murphy. Replacements: K Myhill, R Jones, S Lee, J Ball, J Edwards, G Davies, A Thomas, N Reynolds.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland).