Tuesday 24 October 2017

Rabodirect Pro12 team news: Changes galore for Munster, Connacht and Ulster

Munster's Tommy O'Donnell returns to the red jersey
Munster's Tommy O'Donnell returns to the red jersey

All the team line-ups for this weekend's Rabodirect Pro12 action involving Munster, Connacht and Ulster.

Ospreys v Munster, Sunday 4pm

Munster have made six changes from the side that easily beat Zebre last weekend for Sunday's trip to Wales to face the Ospreys.

Donnacha Ryan, Felix Jones and Tommy O'Donnell all return from the Irish camp and go straight into the team.

Dave Kilcoyne has also been released for the RaboDirect PRO12 clash and is named on the bench with Head Coach Rob Penney making six changes to the team that beat Zebre 36-8 last weekend.

Andrew Conway starts on the right wing in place of Gerhard van den Heever and Ian Keatley shifts from centre to out-half with Cathal Sheridan maintaining his place at scrum-half.

Jones starts at full-back with Simon Zebo, who has four tries in his last three appearances, on the left wing while James Downey comes into the centre for his 40th Munster appearance.

There's an unchanged front-row as James Cronin, Duncan Casey and BJ Botha keep their places.

Dave Foley comes into the team to partner Ryan in the second-row with James Coughlan captaining the side from no.8. Tommy O'Donnell and Sean Dougall, making his first start since injuring his ankle against Connacht in December, complete a dynamic back-row.

Munster team to play the Ospreys: (15-9) Felix Jones; Andrew Conway, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Cathal Sheridan; (1-8) James Cronin, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha; Donnacha Ryan, Dave Foley; Tommy O'Donnell, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan(Capt).

Replacements: (16-23) Ger Slattery, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Donncha O'Callaghan, CJ Stander, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Denis Hurley.


Zebre v Connacht, Sunday 4.30pm

The Connacht team to face Zebre in Italy this weekend has been named. Head Coach Pat Lam has had to make three personnel changes to the team that defeated Scottish opponents Edinburgh last Saturday.

Galway-born Darragh Leader, who made an appearance from the bench last week, is named at fullback for his 5th start of the season.

Dan Parks replaces an injured Craig Ronaldson at outhalf and the former Scottish international is named in an otherwise all-Irish qualified Connacht team.

The only change in the pack comes with the introduction of Academy forward Eoghan Masterson who slots into openside flanker to link up with Andrew Browne and John Muldoon (captain) in the back row. This is the second senior cap for 20-year-old Masterson who made his debut at Number 8 against the Scarlets in November.

Changes on the bench include a call-up for Academy prop Finlay Bealham and veteran outhalf Miah Nikora following his return from long-term injury.

Robbie Henshaw trained with the Ireland squad all week and remains on international duty at the weekend.

Speaking about the team selection and the upcoming game, Head Coach Pat Lam said: “With injuries from last week, we’ve been forced to make some frontline changes but again it’s a brilliant opportunity for our young Academy players Darragh Leader, Eoghan Masterson and Finlay Bealham to step up and make their mark.

“There is a real mixture of youth and experience in this Connacht side but it’s also pleasing that we can name 20 Irish qualified players in a squad of 23.

“There was definitely a sense of relief to get the win against Edinburgh last week but we have set targets for this block of games and we go to Italy with our own expectations on how we play this game and force the outcome.

“Having played Zebre so frequently, and with three wins from three this season, the pressure is on us to deliver again. But we can’t underestimate Zebre. They have always threatened us and they will be targeting this game just as much as we are.

“It’s up to us now to get the job done this weekend and push up that table.“

Connacht team to play Zebre: (15-9) D Leader, T O'Halloran , E Griffin, D McSharry, F Carr, D Parks, K Marmion; (1-8) D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, R Ah You, M Kearney, M Swift,  A Browne, E Masterson, J Muldoon.

Replacements: (16-23) D Heffernan, F Bealham, JP Cooney, A Muldowney, G Naoupu, P O’Donohoe, M Nikora, D Poolman.


Ulster v Treviso, Sunday 2pm

Ruan Pienaar will start at outhalf for Ulster against Treviso on Sunday as Mark Anscombe’s side aims to make it five wins out of five in 2014.

Pienaar is partnered in the halfbacks by Paul Marshall, who makes his first Ulster start since December.

Darren Cave, switches from inside-centre back to his more familiar role at outside-centre, with Jared Payne, Craig Gilroy and Luke Marshall, who all scored tries in the Heineken Cup Pool 5 match against Treviso at Stadio Monigo in December, also named in the backline.

Up front, Ricky Lutton starts at tighthead, with Rob Herring named at hooker and Tom Court selected at loosehead.

Johann Muller captains the side from the second row where he is joined by Lewis Stevenson who has recovered from the neck injury that he sustained against Ospreys.

Robbie Diack, Sean Doyle and Roger Wilson are all named in the backrow, with Wilson set to make his 147th appearance for his Province.

Ulster team to face Treviso: (15-9) J Payne, C Gilroy, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen R Pienaar, P Marshall; (1-8) T Court, R Herring, R Lutton, J Muller (Capt.), L Stevenson, R Diack, S Doyle, R Wilson.

Replacements: (16-23) N Annett, C Black, A Macklin, N McComb, M McComish, M Heaney, R Andrew, R Scholes.

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