Depleted Zebre should find it tough to stymie Munster
Anthony Foley mixed youth with experience as Munster’s fortunes improve
Darren Sweetnam will make his for competitive appearance for Munster against Zebre. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.
Guninness Pro12 League
Zebre v Munster
Stadio Lanfranchi, Saturday, 2.0pm
The ex-Bandon Grammar pupil, who hails from Dunmanway, will start in a team that shows eight changes from the team that beat Benetton Treviso in the Champions Cup last weekend.
Loosehead prop James Cronin has been released from the Ireland squad to get some needed game time after a recent injury in a pack that boasts a nice mixture of youth and experience.
Billy Holland, who signed a two-year contract extension with the province this week, is given the honour of leading the team.
Tomas O’Leary will partner Ian Keatley at halfback while coach Anthony Foley will have been pleased with the continuing maturation in performance terms of centre Rory Scannell and left wing Ronan O’Mahony, both of whom have been impressive of late.
Zebre have managed four victories so far this season but will be hugely handicapped for this match in losing 13 players to the Italian national squad and a couple of others to injury. The return of wing Michele Visentin is a tiny sliver lining in what has been a tough week for coach Gianluca Guidi.
He plays outhalf in this game although the suggestion is that he may line out at centre for the national side.
It could potentially have been a trickier assignment if Zebre were less encumbered by loss of players but Munster should win this one and will be targeting a bonus point to boot, something they have managed on five of six occasions in the past.
ZEBRE: K van Zyl; D Berryman, T Boni, M Pratichetti, M Visentin; K Haimona, L Burgess; A de Marchi, O Fabiani, P Ceccarelli; G Koegelenberg, M Bortalami; E Caffini, J Mayer, J Cook. Replacements: E Coria, B Postiglioni, G Roan, F Ruzza, F Cristiano, G Toniolatti, M Muliaina, U Beyers.
MUNSTER: A Conway; D Sweetnam, F Saili, R Scannell, R O’Mahony; I Keatley, T O’Leary, J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan; D Foley, M Chisholm; B Holland, J O’Donoghue, R Copeland. Replacements: M Sherry, D Kilcoyne, M Sagaro, D O’Callaghan, S Buckley, D Williams, C Bohane, G van den Heever.
Referee: D Phillips (IRFU).