Munster face into back-to-back matches against Italian opposition for the next two rounds of the RaboDirect PRO12, with Rob Penney’s men taking on Zebre this Friday and then Benetton Treviso the following week.
A 33-man Munster squad and eleven backroom staff depart for Italy this Thursday, flying to Milan and then travelling on by coach to Parma where they will stay until Saturday.
The group will then make their way to their training base located near Lake Garda until next Wednesday before moving on to Benetton Treviso for the province’s round 1 game.
Ian Keatley, man-of-the-match from the 34-23 opening win over Edinburgh, said: “Last season our PRO12 got a bit away from us but that’s our bread and butter. We should be winning week in, week out in that competition and we’re really going to focus on that this year.
“With the Heineken Cup and the Thomond Park factor we get up for those matches so it’s what we do week in, week out and setting our targets for the PRO12 each week. We have to win those games.”
There is positive news on the injury front with backs Andrew Conway (dead leg), James Downey (quad) and Keith Earls (shoulder) all named in the travelling party.
Munster fans should also see the return to action of newly-appointed captain Peter O’Mahony and 2013 Lion Simon Zebo in the next two weeks as both are named in the squad.
Please note that both games will not be televised in Ireland, but RTÉ Two will be showing extended Zebre v Munster match highlights on Saturday from 5.05pm.
MUNSTER Squad (v Zebre/Benetton Treviso) – Backs (14): Duncan Williams, Cathal Sheridan, Ian Keatley, JJ Hanrahan, James Downey, Ivan Dineen, Casey Laulala, Denis Hurley, Cian Bohane, Keith Earls, Andrew Conway, Ronan O’Mahony, Johne Murphy, Simon Zebo.
Forwards (19): Damien Varley, Mike Sherry, John Ryan, David Kilcoyne, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Donnacha Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, David Foley, Ian Nagle, CJ Stander, Paddy Butler, Niall Ronan, Peter O’Mahony, James Coughlan, Sean Dougall, Tommy O’Donnell, David O’Callaghan.