RaboDirect PRO12: Munster look to move further clear; Scarlets eager to halt losing run
Last Updated: 03/01/14 7:04pm
Peter O'Mahony: Returns to Munster's starting line-up for the trip to Ravenhill
Munster have the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 league table when they travel to Ravenhill to face Ulster on Friday night.
The visitors have skipper Peter O'Mahony and Paul O'Connell back in a starting line-up that sees no less than 12 changes; Donncha O'Callaghan, James Coughlan and Ronan O'Mahony are the trio to remain from last weekend's victory over Connacht.
Damien Varley returns from illness to start in the front row alongside Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer.
Tommy O'Donnell joins O'Connell and O'Mahony in returning to the pack, while Cathal Sheridan and Ian Keatley are the starting half-back pairing.
Felix Jones comes in at full-back as Keith Earls misses out with a bruised shoulder. There is also no place for JJ Hanrahan in the squad either due to a tight groin.
Ulster, meanwhile, are able to call upon the services of Chris Henry and Iain Henderson after both recovered from injury.
They are two of the six changes to the team that lost to Leinster, with Ruan Pienaar in at scrum-half and Jared Payne selected at full-back.
Tom Court is in at loosehead and John Afoa returns at tighthead prop, though Johann Muller was unavailable for selection having sustained a leg problem in training.
Friday's other league fixture sees Ospreys face Scarlets in a Welsh derby between two teams in contrasting form of late.
Ospreys have won their last three matches in all tournaments and boast a proud record against their compatriots, having not lost at home to a fellow Welsh Region in PRO12 action since October 2010.
Home coach Steve Tandy is able to bring in Justin Tipuric and Ian Evans to bolster his pack, with Aaron Jarvis getting the nod to start at tighthead.
Scarlets, meanwhile, have been dealt a double blow with full-back Liam Williams and hooker Ken Owen both ruled out with respective finger and ankle injuries.
The pair will not only miss the derby rematch but also their club's final two pool games in this season's Heineken Cup. Former Osprey Gareth Owen replaces Williams, while Emyr Phillips is named in Owen's place in the front row.
There are also starting berths for scrum-half Rhodri Williams and flanker Josh Turnbull as the visitors look to halt a worrying five-game losing run in all competitions.