Munster v Northampton: Teams
At Thomond Park, Saturday April 10, kick-off 5.30pm
By Rachel Griffiths. Last Updated: 10/04/10 9:38am
Hartley: Returns for Saints
Captain Dylan Hartley returns to the Northampton starting XV to visit Munster for their Heineken Cup quarter-final clash at Thomond Park.
Hartley returns from injury after missing Saints' 14-7 victory at Leeds Carnegie last weekend, and will be a welcome addition to the squad for the Limerick spectacle.
Saints, chasing a silverware triple this season, are the only English side left in the Heineken Cup, putting them under serious pressure to deliver.
Jim Mallinder's men secured a 31-27 pool stage victory over Munster earlier in the season, and came close in the return fixture at Thomond Park in January, which the Magners League side edged 12-9.
Director of rugby Mallinder is confident his team can meet the Irish competition head on, despite the fact Munster have suffered just one defeat in their last 42 Heineken home games.
"It was a massive occasion at Thomond Park in January but tomorrow evening there is a semi-final spot at stake," said Mallinder.
"We have come a long way in a relatively short period of time, but we believe we can come home from Limerick with a positive result.
"We have prepared well this week and the players have been focused on the challenge in hand."
Meanwhile, James Coughlan is set for his first Heineken Cup start having been named at number eight for Munster.
Coughlan's inclusion means David Wallace moves back to the openside, while Keith Earls renews his centre partnership with Jean de Villiers after recovering from a groin injury, with Lifeimi Mafi dropping to the bench.
Munster's other groin injury sufferer captain Paul O'Connell has also been named in the side as boss Tony McGahan fields his strongest possible team for the all-important clash.
Munster: 15 Paul Warwick, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Ian Dowling, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 James Coughlan, 7 David Wallace, 6 Alan Quinlan, 5 Paul O'Connell (capt) 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Hayes, 2 Jerry Flannery, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Julian Brugnaut, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Mick O'Driscoll, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Niall Ronan, 22 Peter Stringer, 23 Lifeimi Mafi.
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Bruce Reihana, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Neil Best, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Regardt Dreyer, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Alan Dickens, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Joe Ansbro.