Preview: Ospreys v Munster

Date published: December 2 2011

Ospreys will be without a host of international players for Saturday's Pro12 clash against Munster at Liberty Stadium.

Ospreys will be without a host of international players for Saturday's Pro12 clash against Munster at Liberty Stadium.

Huw Bennett, Ryan Bevington, Dan Biggar, Ian Evans, Ryan Jones, Justin Tipuric and Shane Williams are all with the Wales squad for Saturday's game agianst Australia in Cardiff.

Tom Habberfield, Will Price and Tom Prydie are with Wales Sevens while Eli Walker is playing in the Help For Heroes match at Twickenham.

Ospreys also have a long injury list which includes Kahn Fotuali'i (rib), Adam Jones (calf), Alun Wyn Jones (foot), Nikki Walker (ACL) and Paul James (thumb).

“Any game against Munster is a tough one and this weekend will be no different,” commented Ospreys forwards coach, Jonathan Humphreys.

“We've been involved in some really tight games against them over the years and there generally doesn't tend to be more than one score in it. We're expecting them to come over fully loaded with their internationals and they'll definitely be targeting this one so we're going to have to be at our best. There's no doubt about that.

“We've got a good record in the PRO12 this season, we've only lost the one game, but we're not kidding ourselves about where we are. We know that we've got to continue improving our game, working hard and find that clinical edge.

“That's not to take anything away from this group of players who have done so well. They've worked hard, they are playing for the cause and they've been getting results. This will be the toughest test for them yet, no doubt about it given the circumstances of the game, but they have shown already that they are prepared to front up and wear the shirt with pride. They are going to have to do that again on Saturday night, and hopefully, they'll be able to send our supporters home happy.”

Sam Lewis will make his PRO12 debut if he comes off the bench.
Meanwhile, Munster coach Tony McGahan continues to ring the changes with just eight of those who started against Edinburgh last week hanging onto their jersey.

There's just one change in the backline with Doug Howlett not surprisingly returning in place of Luke O'Dea who made an impressive try scoring debut against Edinburgh.

It's upfront where most of the tinkering has been done with just two, the veterans Marcus Horan – winning his 200th cap – and Donncha O'Callaghan retained from last weekend's game.

Paul O'Connell is kept in reserve – as is Ronan O'Gara – and in his absence Peter O'Mahony takes over the captaincy.

Last weekend Donncha Ryan was left out to get over a slight foot injury but he's back to partner O'Callaghan and looking forward to a tough challenge.

“They're always a tough side to take on, no matter where you play them but in their own back yard, more so,” he told the Munster website.

“And I dont think it matters what side they put out, they'll still play the same brand of rugb. Physical when they want to be and expansive when they can.”

“So I think we need to match them up front, take them on there and see where that gets us.”

Form: Ospreys have lost just one game in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season: 17-28 at Glasgow in round seven. Ospreys only home defeat in the tournament in the last twelve months was 20-22 to today's visitors, Munster, on 23 April. Munster have won their last three matches in all competitions since their 19-24 reversal at the hands of Irish provincial rivals Leinster at Aviva Stadium on 4 November. Munster's 17-13 defeat by Ospreys at Thomond Park in round six ended an eight game winning run by the Munstermen against the Welsh regions. The Irishmen won 22-20 on their most recent visit to Liberty Stadium on 23 April.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Barry Davies, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Richard Fussell, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 James King, 6 Tom Smith (c), 5 Jonathan Thomas, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Mefin Davies, 17 Cai Griffiths, 18 Joe Rees, 19 George Stowers, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Tom Isaacs, 22 Sonny Parker, 23 Hanno Dirksen.

Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Will Chambers, 12 Danny Barnes, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Peter O'Mahony (c) 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Denis Leamy, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Denis Fogarty, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Paul O'Connell, 20 James Coughlan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Ronan O'Gara, 23 Johne Murphy.

Date: Saturday, December 3
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 18.30
Referee: Peter Allan (SRU)