FORMER Springbok Arno Botha is confident that Munster have the depth to keep their charge towards a home Guinness PRO14 semi-final going in the absence of their Ireland stars, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Irish province started the weekend on top of Conference A and are favourites to take the spoils when they take on the Dragons at Rodney Parade this afternoon.

Head coach Johann van Graan has made 13 changes to the XV that won a bruising and thrilling Thomond Park encounter with Exeter 9-7 to secure a place in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Nonetheless, he is still able to field a line-up that contains experienced locks Jean Kleyn and Billy Holland (whose key lineout steal helped beat the Chiefs), former All Blacks scrum-half Alby Mathewson, Ireland caps Darren Sweetnam and Stephen Archer and Kiwis Rhys Marshall and Tyler Bleyendaal.

And Botha, who won two South Africa caps in the summer of 2013, will be a key figure in the back row if the PRO14 stats are anything to go by.

The dynamic forward is on the leaderboard for tackles, carries and defenders beaten and doesn't expect Munster's standards to drop over the coming weeks despite the absence of the likes of Peter O'Mahony, Conor Murray, CJ Stander, Joey Carbery, Keith Earls and Tadhg Beirne.

South Wales Argus:

"If you look at it, we've been here in this position before when the Irish guys go," said Botha, who came off the bench against Exeter.

"We have good strength in our squad and I think that's what makes Munster amazing and a good team — or a great team.

"It's the depth we have and everyone can perform — they can just step in and do the next thing the other guy did. That's why it's so exciting playing for Munster.

"The guys want to show what they can do. It's a great ­opportunity for all of us to display.

"We normally don't focus on the individuals but, as a team, we need to stay with the structures we have, and we've been doing it well over the last seven months — that's the main goal."

Munster: M Haley; D Sweetnam, D Goggin, T Bleyendaal (captain), R O'Mahony; B Johnston, A Mathewson; J Loughman, R Marshall, S Archer; J Kleyn, B Holland; F Wycherley, C Oliver, A Botha. Replacements: K O'Byrne, L O'Connor, C Parker, D O'Shea, G Coombes, N Cronin, C Nash, J Taute.