Munster head coach Anthony Foley has named his team for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO12 encounter with Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi (kick-off 3pm local time/2pm Irish time).
There are eight changes to the side that defeated Benetton Treviso in the Champions Cup last weekend, with Darren Sweetnam set to make his first competitive start.
Following his inclusion in the Ireland RBS 6 Nations squad, James Cronin has been made available to the province this weekend and returns to the starting line-up at loosehead prop. Niall Scannell comes in at hooker, while John Ryan continues to fill the tighthead berth.
Mark Chisholm resumes his partnership with Dave Foley in the second row, and in the back row Jack O’Donoghue and Robin Copeland come in to join blindside flanker Billy Holland. Having just signed a new two-year deal with Munster, Holland will also captain the province in Italy.
The first of three changes across the back-line comes at scrum half with Tomas O’Leary partnering Ian Keatley in the half-backs. Elsewhere, Andrew Conway has recovered from a hip-pointer to start at full-back and following a run of strong performances for Munster ‘A’ in this season’s British & Irish Cup, Sweetnam will make his first PRO12 start on the right wing.
There is no change on the opposite flank with last weekend’s man of the match Ronan O’Mahony staying put, and Rory Scannell and Francis Saili again take charge of the midfield.
Dave O’Callaghan makes a return to the matchday squad, among the replacements, after successfully rehabbing an adductor injury.
MUNSTER (v Zebre): Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Tomas O’Leary; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Dave Foley, Mark Chisholm, Billy Holland (capt), Jack O’Donoghue, Robin Copeland.
Replacements: Mike Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne, Mario Sagario, Dave O’Callaghan, Shane Buckley, Duncan Williams, Cian Bohane, Gerhard van den Heever.