Anthony Foley is again without his Irish contingent and despite losing their last two at Thomond Park, they host the Ospreys at a ground where they are unbeaten in three years and proud Corkman Scannell is raring to go.
Meanwhile Steve Tandy will be hoping Springbok JJ Englebrecht can make an immediate impact in his first start and, in another boost, can name Welsh international and last year's GUINESSPRO12 players' player of the year Rhys Webb on the bench.
Ospreys are missing eight internationals and eight more players through injury and have just one win from their four trips to Irish Independent Park.
Munster can jump ahead of fifth-placed Edinburgh with a win and reduce their deficit to the Scarlets to four points with a game in hand as the playoff race picks up speed and Scannell knows they are entering a critical period.
"Ospreys are hot on our heels on the league table and they will be looking to close that gap. Every game in the league is now like a mini Cup Final because things are so tight at the top. All teams are trying to qualify for Europe and the final four of the PRO12," Scannell said.
"Ospreys, like us, will be without a number of internationals but they still have some great players there - Sam Davies pulling the strings at 10 and Josh Matavesi in midfield so it will be a tough and physical game as it always is against Ospreys."
Billy Holland returns as captain at blindside and Jack O'Donoghue moves to No.8 for the first time this season, John Ryan starts at tighthead and is joined by the returning Dave Kilcoyne and Mike Sherry, while at half-back Duncan Williams comes in to partner stand-off Ian Keatley.
"They will be looking to get one over on us after we nicked it over in the Liberty Stadium at the start of the season," Scannell added.
"It will be tough but we are looking forward to it and hopefully there will be a good crowd in Cork to get behind us."
Ospreys' Tandy knows that victory could put them in the hunt for a play-off place, but a loss will see them ten points adrift of Munster.
Despite being without Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, James King and Dan Biggar, Tandy will be relieved to see Webb return from long-term injury.
South African Englebrecht links up with Matavesi in the centre, with Owen Watkin dropping to the bench and highly-rated openside Sam Underhill continues in the back-row, while Ben John replaces Eli Walker, a try-scorer against Leinster.
"We know the size of the challenge ahead so if we are going to close the gap on the teams above us and we understand what we've got to do collectively, starting this weekend," Tandy said.
"Make no mistake about it we are still in this race. The GUINNESS PRO12 is tighter than ever and we know that with results this season showing that everybody is capable of beating each other, there is everything left to play for.
"Anything can happen and you can expect to see plenty of movement in the table over the next few weeks as results go one way then another.
"For us it's about us looking at the remaining fixtures as nine battles that we've got to be up for week by week if we are going to achieve our overall aim, starting in Cork on Sunday against the team who are one place above us.
"We've got an exciting young group who are growing in our environment and getting some miles on the clock at the sharp end."
At Irish Independent Park, 5pm. Live on TG4/S4C
Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU, 54th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Mark Patton, Jonathan Peak (both IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Tim Lowry (IRFU)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (IRFU)
1st Floor Simmonscourt House
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Ireland