Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan will make his first start of the season when he lines out for Munster against Zebre at the Stadio XXV Aprile on Friday (kick-off 7.30pm local time/6.30pm Irish time).
The returning Donnacha Ryan will make his first 2013/14 appearance in a Munster jersey, starting next to Ian Nagle in the second row.
Andrew Conway, who scored a try in the limited time he played against Gloucester in the pre-season game, makes a return from the dead leg he sustained that day, while James Downey, capped for the first time on Ireland’s summer tour, is named amongst the replacements.
Damien Varley will captain the side from hooker and is joined by fellow Ireland international David Kilcoyne and John Ryan in the front row.
The last outing against Zebre saw Munster only narrowly defeat the Italian side 27-25 in Parma and the Italians, who suffered a 25-16 defeat to Connacht last weekend, will be looking to open their home campaign with a positive start.
The province’s head coach Rob Penney said: “They were pretty robust against Connacht and they’ll be heading home with the desire to get their stadium off to a winning start so that brings some hurdles of their own.
“Zebre are a physical, challenging side and we found that out last year. They’ve some good players there and they are not the roll over team that people think they are.”
Please note the game will not be televised in Ireland – there is coverage in Italy on Mediaset – but RTÉ Two will show extended Zebre v Munster match highlights on Saturday from 5.05pm.
MUNSTER (v Zebre): Denis Hurley; Johne Murphy, Casey Laulala, Ivan Dineen, Andrew Conway; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; David Kilcoyne, Damien Varley (capt), John Ryan; Donnacha Ryan, Ian Nagle; CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell, Paddy Butler.
Replacements: Mike Sherry, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Dave Foley, Niall Ronan, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, James Downey.