Tom Gleeson ends a three-year wait to make his second competitive start for Munster when they take on Glasgow in the Magners League at Firhill tonight.
The Corkman's only previous league outing came against the now defunct Borders in Thomond Park in 2006 but gets his chance this evening after impressing during Munster's pre-season friendly schedule.
The centre, who turns 24 at the end of this month, shone at under-age level but has played most of his rugby over the last three years with Munster ‘A' and Cork Constitution in the AIB League.
Given Munster's midfield strength in depth over the past number of seasons, Gleeson is a player who may have been better served by a move to Connacht and the type of career boost that has worked for Bernard Jackman, Jerry Flannery, Sean Cronin and Ian Keatley.
With Jean De Villiers joining Munster this season and players of the quality of Lifeimi Mafi, Keith Earls and Barry Murphy also in the midfield mix, Gleeson could find game time hard to come by again this season, but he has been upgraded to a full-time contract and having Mafi alongside him tonight will serve as a considerable confidence boost.
Jeremy Manning, another player more used to regular starts with Cork Constitution than Munster, starts inside Gleeson at out-half where he will benefit from the experience and swift service of Peter Stringer. Doug Howlett and Denis Hurley fill the wing slots while Felix Jones will look to get on the ball from full-back.
Up front, Mick O'Driscoll leads the side from the second-row where Donnacha Ryan will be looking to make a strong impression in his best position.
Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty and Tony Buckley form a potent front-row combination and there is good balance in the back-row blend of Billy Holland, Niall Ronan and Denis Leamy.
The back-row is Glasgow's greatest area of strength with three Scottish internationals — Kelly Brown, John Barclay and John Beattie — named in Sean Lineen's starting line-up. Chris Cusiter forms an experienced half-back combination with Dan Parks. The Aussie may be far from the complete out-half but he can do a job and knows how to close out a tight game in unpleasant conditions.
Thom Evans brings an attacking threat to the left wing while on the far side Rob Dewey will be looking for a morale-boosting return to Scottish rugby after a torrid time with Ulster.
Glasgow are encouraged by their pre-season win over Wasps and Lineen feels his men are capable of beating the champions.
“Munster is a huge first-up challenge,” he said. “This is where it all starts. Pre-season is pre-season and it will all count for nothing unless we perform on the pitch.”