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Preview: Ulster v Munster

02nd January 2014 11:11

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Peter OMahony

Returning: Peter O'Mahony

Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony and Paul O'Connell have been named to start in their Pro12 clash with Ulster at Ravenhill on Friday.

Donncha O'Callaghan, James Coughlan and Ronan O'Mahony are the starting trio that survive from last weekend's Connacht victory.

Damien Varley returns from his bout off illness to start in the front row with Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer.

Tommy O'Donnell joins O'Connell and O'Mahony in returning to the pack, while there is a change in half-backs this week with Cathal Sheridan and Ian Keatley starting.

The backline sees Felix Jones at full-back with Andrew Conway, Ivan Dineen and Casey Laulala joining Ronan O'Mahony.

Keith Earls misses out this week with a bruised shoulder and there is no place for JJ Hanrahan in the squad due to a tight groin but both are expected to train next week.

James Cronin received the all clear from the scan of his lower back but will not be involved this weekend.

Meanwhile, Chris Henry and Iain Henderson have recovered from injury and have been named in the Ulster starting XV.

They are two of six changes to the team that lost to Leinster in the RDS for Ulster's second interprovincial match in six days.

Ruan Pienaar starts at scrum-half, Jared Payne is selected at full-back, with Tom Court named at loosehead and John Afoa returning at tighthead.

Pro12 Players' Player of the Year, Nick Williams, has recovered from the calf injury that he picked up in November and is named as a substitute.

Johann Muller was unavailable for selection having sustained a leg injury in training this week.

Form: Ulster's 6-19 reversal against Leinster in Dublin on Saturday ended their five game winning run in all tournaments. The Ulstermen have lost only once at Ravenhill Stadium in any tournament since February: 12-13 to Glasgow in the PRO12 on September 13. Ulster won all three home games against fellow Irish provinces last season. Munster continue to top the PRO12 table, having suffered just one defeat in their last twelve matches in the competition: 19-29 in Treviso on September 20. The Munstermen have won their last four away games in all tournaments since their 23-29 loss in Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup on October 12. Munster have been defeated just once in their last six contests with fellow Irish provinces: 16-22 at home to Leinster in April. The last five encounters between the two sides have all been won by the home team on the day, whilst Munster's only victory at Ravenhill since 2007 was 16-6 on October 29 2010.

The teams:

Ulster: Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack (c), 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 John Afoa, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Calum Black, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Sean Doyle, 22 Paul Marshall, 23 Michael Allen

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Ivan Dineen, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Cathal Sheridan, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony (c), 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 John Ryan, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Dave Foley, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Johnny Holland, 23 Johne Murphy.

Date: Friday, January 3
Kick-off: 19:05 GMT
Venue: Ravenhill
Referee: tbc
Assistant referees: tbc
Television match official: tbc

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