Munster opt for youthful line-up for Treviso opener
James Hart and prop Ciaran Park set to make their competitive debuts for province
Munster’s James Hart in action during the pre-eason friendly against Worcester Warriors at the Sixways Stadium, Worcester. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Munster v Benetton Treviso, Musgrave Park (7.35, live on TG4)
Munster’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has picked a youthful side for the province’s opening Guinness Pro14 fixture.
Academy flanker Sean O’Connor is named at flanker while Andrew Conway returns at fullback.
Unfortunately young flanker Conor Oliver will be out until the new year while Gerbrandt Grobler will see a specialist for an ankle problem.
The backline includes new signing, the Ulster-born centre Chris Farrell who joined from Grenoble, and a couple of fellow Irish underage internationals in wings, Darren Sweetnam and Alex Wootton, providing a real cutting edge to the three quarter line, provided they can be given a decent platform.
Academy loosehead prop Liam O’Connor has impressed sufficiently in pre-season to retain his place, albeit factoring in the injury to James Cronin (knee) and Dave Kilcoyne’s late return after summer duty with Ireland in the USA and Japan.
It’s great to see Mike Sherry return – he is on the bench – after prolonged spell through injury on the sideline, his last game way back in May of last year.
Dubliner Ian McKinley is named at fullback for a visiting team that is hampered by an extensive injury list.
MUNSTER: A Conway; D Sweetnam, C Farrell, J Taute, A Wootton; T Bleyendaal (capt), D Williams; L O’Connor, R Marshall, S Archer; J Kleyn, B Holland; S O’Connor, T O’Donnell, J O’Donoghue. Replacements: M Sherry, B Scott, C Parker, F Wycherley, R Copeland, J Hart, I Keatley, D Goggin.
TREVISO: I McKinley; A Esposito, T Benvenuti, T Allan, E Gori; M Banks, T Tebaldi; F Zani, L Bigi, S Ferrari; D Budd (capt), M Lazzaroni; F Minto, S Negri, W Douglas. Replacements: E Makelara, C Traore, M Riccioni, F Ruzza, A Steyn, G Bronzini, A Sgarbi, A Buondonno.
Referee: I Davies (Wales)