On a night when Marcus Horan wins his 200th Munster cap, McGahan welcomes back many of his front-liners to seek retribution for the October 8 defeat at Thomond Park.
“We lost the game at home and we don’t like losing at home,” admitted McGahan. “We need to make sure we stay in position to challenge and we need to take three points back this week that we lost (to Ospreys).”
The coach, keeping heavyweights squad skipper Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara in reserve, has made just one change in the back division from the team that defeated Edinburgh last week with Doug Howlett returning for rookie Luke O’Dea.
Horan is recalled in a pack that contains Damian Varley, BJ Botha, Donnacha Ryan and Donncha O’Callaghan, with Peter O’Mahony captaining the side
Horan was yesterday hailed by assistant coach and former team-mate Anthony Foley, the first Munster player to amass 200 caps: “Having played and worked with Marcus, I’ve seen the work ethic and application he brings to the game; he’s been doing that week in week out over the past 13 seasons. Remember too he’s had his share of time out with illness and injury. We recognise the test of endurance he’s had to face.”
McGahan, meanwhile, expects the Ospreys to throw everything at his side to retain their place at the top of the table, even though they will be without call-up players to the Welsh squad for today’s Test with Australia.
“The Ospreys are always dangerous opposition,” he said, “they have just the one loss in this competition so far and have given a lot of young players a run, so they have gathered a lot of experience.”
He accepts that this next bank of games are hugely important, saying: “We have got to win this game and then move on to Europe next week, but there are eight huge games coming up and we have to focus on each and every one of them.”
OSPREYS: B Davies, T Bowe, A Beck, R Fussell, M Morgan, R Webb, D Jones, R Hibbard, A Jarvis, I Gough, J Thomas, T Smith (captain), J Bearman, J King.
Replacements: M Davies, C Griffiths, J Rees, G Stowers, S Lewis, T Isaacs, S Parker, H Dirksen.
MUNSTER: D Hurley; D Howlett, WChambers, D Barnes, S Zebo; I Keatley, T O’Leary; M Horan, D Varley, BJ Botha; D O’Callaghan, D Ryan; D Leamy, N Ronan, PO’Mahony (captain).
Replacements: D Fogarty, W du Preez, S Archer, P O’Connell, J Coughlan, C Murray, R O’Gara, J Murphy.