With the exception of prop Jody Danagher, Munster coach Alan Gaffney retains the same forward unit that finished the game last weekend and starts Friday's game against Ulster with the backline formation that ended up on the pitch in Glasgow. An injury to Dominic Crotty means that Shaun Payne takes over at full-back (Crotty is on the bench) and Martin McPhail who replaced Crotty in Hughenden makes his first appearance in a Munster starting senior XV. Martin Cahill a second half replacement for Danagher retains his position in the front row alongside Jerry Flannery and try scorer Simon Kerr.
Gaffney is under no illusions about the task facing his side on Friday. "It's going to be tough, that goes without saying, especially up front. Games between Munster and Ulster are always tense tight affairs. Both sides like to spread the ball wide and at the moment they are playing impressively. So once again we're up against but it's another challenge and we like nothing better than a challenge."
Gaffney was awaiting news on scrum-half Mike Prendergast who was injured in a club game at the weekend and he admitted that the prospects of a speedy return by the number 9 were slim. " Mikey suffered a kneee injury, the extent of which we may know today but it looks like a longer rather than short term injury. I'm really disappointed for the player who worked hard to get back from a shoulder injury and for this to happen to him now is just terrible."
Munster are in the unusual situation of having lost their last three games but captain Jim Williams refuses to be downcast, " Yes, it's the first time since I joined that we've lost this many. But it's a different situation. You've got new players in, a young squad, a new competition it's a question of guys gelling and it takes time. We didnt have a lot of time pre-season.
But it's starting to come, better performances are starting to come through especially the second half of the Ospreys game and the majority of the last game, against Glasgow. We just got to put it all together, hold on our position and take our chances. "It's going to be a tough on Friday. A very rugged match and we're going to need all the support we can get in Musgrave Park. I'm expecting a tough game but I'm definitely looking forward to it."
Munster Team to Face Ulster:
15 Shaun Payne 14 Martin McPail 13 Mike Mullins 12 Jason Jones-Hughes 11 Mossie Lawlor 10 Jeremy Staunton 9 Eoin Reddan 1 Simon Kerr 2 Jerry Flannery 3 Martin Cahill 4 Trevor Hogan 5 David Pusey 6 Stephen Keogh 7 David Wallace 8 Jim Williams capt
16 Dominic Crotty 17 Conrad O'Sullivan 18 Frank Murphy 19 Colm McMahon 20 Eddie Halvey 21 Jody Danagher 22 Frank Roche
B Cunningham, S Young, S Mallon, S Stewart, T Howe, A Larkin, K Campbell, R McCormack, P Shields, R Moore, M Mustchin, M McCullough, A Ward (capt), N Best, T McWhirter.
Replacements: N Brady, B Young, R Frost, R Wilson, R Spee, R Constable, J Topping.