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Saturday 19 April 2014

Team-by-team guide to the Pro12 season

CARDIFF BLUES

Coach: Phil Davies

Captain: Matthew Rees

Key Gains: Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees

Significant Departures: Jamie Roberts, Jason Tovey, Ceri Sweeney

Last three seasons: 9th (2013), 7th, 6th

Pedigree: No threat on grass. New synthetic surface will suit a very young, ambitious side

Prediction: 7th

CONNACHT

Coach: Pat Lam

Captain: John Muldoon/ Gavin Duffy/Michael Swift

Key Gains: Fionn Carr, Craig Clarke, James So'oialo

Significant Departures: Mike McCarthy, Adrian Flavin, Johnny O'Connor

Last three seasons: 8th, 8th, 9th

Pedigree: Developing — as evidenced by three decent finishes in a row

Prediction: 8th

DRAGONS

Coach: Lyn Jones

Captain: Andrew Coombs

Key Gains: Richie Rees, Netani Talei, Jason Tovey, Kris Burton

Significant Departures: Dan Lydiate

Last three seasons: 11th, 9th, 7th

Pedigree: Weakest Welsh outfit but looking to maintain upward swing, at expense of Scarlets perhaps

Prediction: 9th

EDINBURGH

Coach: Alan Solomons

Captain: Greig Laidlaw

Key Gains: Wiccus Blau, Jack Cuthbert, Nikki Walker

Significant Departures: Allan Jacobsen, Richie Rees, Netani Talei, Steve Turnbull, Andy Titterell

Last three seasons: 10th, 11th, 8th

Pedigree: None, but they are capable of making it to mid table

Prediction: 6th

GLASGOW

Coach: Gregor Townsend

Captain: Al Kellock

Key Gains: Leone Nakawara, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Richie Vernon

Significant Departures: John Barclay, Rory Lamont, Graeme Morrison

Last three seasons: 3rd, 4th, 11th

Pedigree: Four times in the top four, and now with two good back to back campaigns they're ready to break new ground

Prediction: 1st

LEINSTER

Coach: Matt O'Connor

Captain: Leo Cullen

Key Gains: Mike McCarthy, Zane Kirchner, Jimmy Gopperth

Significant Departures: Jonny Sexton, Isa Nacewa, Fionn Carr, Andrew Conway, Heinke van der Merwe

Last three seasons: 1st, 2nd, 2nd

Pedigree: The most consistent team in the competition with 10 finishes in top four.

Prediction: 3rd

MUNSTER

Coach: Rob Penney

Captain: Peter O'Mahony

Key Gains: Andrew Conway

Significant Departures: Wian du Preez, Doug Howlett, Ronan O'Gara

Last three seasons: 6th, 3rd, 1st

Pedigree: Traditionally a Heineken Cup team but nine top four finishes is a very good return

Prediction: 5th

OSPREYS

Coach: Steve Tandy

Captain: Alun Wyn Jones

Key Gains: Tito Tebaldi

Significant Departures: Kahn Fotuali'i, Jonathan Thomas

Last three seasons: 5th, 1st, 4th

Pedigree: The best of Wales by a distance with more titles than anyone else and two other finishes in top four

Prediction: 4th

SCARLETS

Coach: Simon Easterby

Captain: Jonathan Davies and Rob McCusker

Key Gains: John Barclay, Steve Shingler

Significant Departures: Tavis Knoyle, George North, Matthew Rees, Sione Timani, Owen Williams

 Last three seasons: 4th, 5th, 5th

Pedigree: Good to look at but not that hard to stop. Great tradition but no history of success in this competition

Prediction: 10th

TREVISO

Coach: Franco Smith

Captain: Antoni Pavanello

Key Gains: Matt Berquist

Significant Departures: Tommaso Benvenuti, Kris Burton

Last three seasons: 7th, 10th, 10th

Pedigree: Best season last term but without big investment they'll slip backwards

Prediction: 11th

ULSTER

Coach: Mark Anscombe

Captain: Johann Muller

Key Gains: None

Significant Departures: None Last three seasons: 2nd, 6th, 3rd

Pedigree: Established as contenders again and have sufficient personnel to be just that

Prediction: 2nd

ZEBRE

Coach: Robert Manghi

Captain: Marco Bortolami

Key Gains: Brendon Leonard, Guilio Toniolatti Significant Departures: Sinoti Sinoti, Tito Tebaldi

Last three seasons: 12th, 12th*, 12th*

Pedigree: None

Prediction: 12th

* Trading as Aironi in those two seasons

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