If Ulster’s unbeaten start to this season’s RaboDirect PRO12 is to come to an end it’s likely to happen at Thomond Park Stadium this evening.
Because they bring to Thomond Park Stadium what is a largely a second string squad, fifteen of whom featured in the Ravens British & Irish Cup squad a fortnight ago
Six of the side Mark Anscombe starts this evening, were starters on that occasion, while two more – Rob Herring and Adam Macklin – came off the bench in that B&I Cup game against Cardiff that Ulster won by 26 points.
Of that octet, only one, Neil McComb, started against Leinster while Callum Black, Niall O'Connor and Herring, got one, three and seven minutes of action respectively that night.
Rob Penney has made three less changes than his countryman. And in three of the eight he's made, one is positional, three involve returning internationals, another sees the return of Doug Howlett to the right wing after a little niggle kept him out of the Connacht game while he rotates his front row as he has been doing all along.
So in many ways his side is on a hiding to nothing against a visiting side who can of course play with total abandon in conditions, if they persisit, that will be ideal for them.
Munster: D Hurley; D Howlett capt, C Laulala, J Downey, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; W du Preez, D Varley, BJ Botha; D O'Callaghan, B Holland; P O'Mahony, T O'Donnell, P Butler. Replacements: M Sherry, M Horan, S Archer, Dave O'Callaghan, J Coughlan, P Stringer, R O'Gara, F Jones.
Ulster: A D'Arcy; C Cochrane, M Allen, L Marshall, C Gilroy; N O'Connor, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring, A Macklin; L Stevenson, N McComb; R Diack, M McComish, R Wilson. Replacements: N Annett, R Litton, T Court, A O'Connor, A Birch, M Heaney, S Olding, R Andrew.
Referee: Alain Rolland