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McGahan knows Ospreys are no longer an easy target for Munster

THE Ospreys heading to Thomond Park in the Heineken Cup once would have held no fears for Munster.

The red machine and double Heineken Cup champions almost relished the prospect of exposing the soft underbelly of Wales' flag-bearers in Europe.

Munster were a genuine powerhouse of European rugby, the undoubted kings of Celtic rugby.

However, the noise coming from Munster these days is of a newfound respect for a Welsh side which has reached three successive Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

Munster coach Tony McGahan is in no doubt about the size of the challenge facing his own side this weekend.

"The Ospreys have a tremendous squad, which reflects their standing as a European power," said McGahan. "They've evolved, have tightened up a little bit, but they still retain the flamboyant approach that they can play.

"They also have a pack that's getting a steel edge, with Jerry Collins and the others."

Munster talisman Paul O'Connell has been named as a replacement tomorrow.

McGahan makes four changes from the side which saw off Toulon in round two.

One of those changes is positional as Johne Murphy switches from inside centre to the wing, which was occupied for the Toulon game by Denis Hurley. That change accommodates the selection of Sam Tuitupou, who missed the Toulon game because of suspension.

Tomás O'Leary gets the nod over Peter Stringer while, up front, the one change sees James Coughlan come in at blindside wing forward for Alan Quinlan. If Quinlan does come off the bench, he will win his 206th cap.

munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, S Tuitupou, J Murphy; R O'Gara, T O'Leary; W du Preez, D Varley, T Buckley, D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll, J Coughlan, D Wallace, D Leamy (capt). Reps: M Sherry, D Hurley, J Hayes, P O'Connell, A Quinlan, P Stringer, L Mafi, D Hurley.

Ospreys : B Davies; T Bowe, A Bishop, J Hook, R Fussell; D Biggar, M Phillips; P James, R Hibbard, A Jones, R Jones, A Wyn Jones (capt), J Collins, M Holah, J Thomas. Reps: M Davies, D Jones, C Mitchell, I Gough, J Tipuric/T Smith, J Nutbrown, S Parker, N Walker.