The first of this season’s interpros sees Ulster travel to Munster, and if their recent match-ups are anything to go by then we are in for a classic.
The post World Cup malaise should be lifted at Thomond Park – with some of Ireland’s stars back on show and two sides that have made a strong start to the 2015/16 campaign.
In the corresponding fixture at Thomond Park last season, Ulster were denied victory in the last minute as Ian Humphreys’ conversion of Nick Williams’ try sailed narrowly wide.
Out for revenge in May at the Kingspan Stadium, Ulster – despite being down to 14 men – again left it late before Paul Marshall crossed late on to seal a 23-23 draw.
The Ulstermen are on a club record unbeaten home run of 14 league games but have lost both times on their travels this campaign.
Indeed they have only won once in the PRO12 in Limerick since 2009 and No.8 Williams knows that will need to change this Friday night.
“It’s a tasty one, isn’t it?” he said. “We always look forward to getting out and playing the boys down south.
“We know that it’s always going to be tough playing away.
The success that we’ve had at home, it’s just been a bit harder to get that going in away games. It’s all about getting the balance right and also how we prepare for it mentally.
“We’ve been around the game long enough that wherever you go, whether the stadium is full or half empty, you need to make sure there’s an atmosphere within the squad.
“With the Scarlets and Edinburgh, we spoke about making our own atmosphere. We knew it was going to be quiet compared to the Kingspan.
“It’s a mental battle that we haven’t seemed to be getting right at the moment.”
Munster’s perfect start to the new Guinness PRO12 season ended with their 22-25 defeat at Scarlets on Friday and now just two points separate them from Ulster in the table.
The Munstermen have not lost back-to-back regular season fixtures in the same campaign since April 2013 and have won their last 11 home matches in all tournaments since losing out to Clermont Auvergne in the European Cup in Limerick in December.
Ulster will be without Tommy Bowe, Iain Henderson and Jared Payne after all three returned injured from the World Cup.
Bowe looks set to miss at least six months but Paddy Jackson and Darren Dave were both back in action last weekend.
For Munster, head coach Anthony Foley – who also admitted their new back-row signing will be announced on Thursday – hinted that Simon Zebo and Donnacha Ryan will be in the Munster matchday 23 with Conor Murray and Keith Earls set to be rested for another week or two.
“The fellas coming back from a big tournament, off a big disappointment, are physically in great shape but we need to see mentally where they are,” he said.
“We are going into week three now, of a 16-week block. You don’t want to put them in early and suffer the consequences later.”