Connacht wary of Zebre threat as unbeaten Leinster and Ulster go again
Far away from the glamour of Ireland's clash against England today, the four provinces will be putting the finishing touches to their preparations for this weekend's Guinness PRO14 action.
It has been an impressive start to the season for the Irish teams, as Leinster, Munster and Ulster all boast a 100pc winning record, while Connacht are playing catch-up having been disrupted by opposition teams being forced to postpone games.
After an unwanted week off, Andy Friend's men slipped up at home to Scarlets last weekend, but Connacht will look to get back to winning ways on the road tomorrow, as they take on Zebre (2.30, eir Sport 1).
Tom Farrell was on the cusp of breaking into the Ireland set-up last year. The centre, who will be a key man in Italy, is wary of Zebre's threat.
"We're fully aware of the challenge," Farrell said. "They've had a mixed bag of results, but I don't think the Ulster game (57-14 defeat) is a fair reflection of the team they are."
Connacht can talk up Zebre all they like, but privately at least they know that a win tomorrow is non-negotiable.
Ulster will be keen to back up their thumping win over the Italians last weekend, and Dan McFarland's side will have the added bonus of welcoming 1,000 supporters to the Kingspan Stadium for the visit of Scarlets (eir Sport 1, 7.35).
The northern province have looked good this season and back-row Greg Jones is eager to catch the eye.
"I'd obviously like to play more than I have and I have no problem saying that," the Dubliner admitted. "But there is so much competition that it is tough to get in. I've felt that, when given the chance, I've been good over the last while and I've been happy how I've performed."
Ulster will fancy their chances of making home advantage count against their Welsh visitors, as will champions Leinster who host Cardiff Blues tomorrow (TG4/eir Sport 1, 5.15).
Barring a major upset Leo Cullen's men should win again, while Munster are in action on Monday night in Glasgow (eir Sport 1, 8.15)