Both Benetteon Treviso and Munster will want to put their opening round performances behind them when they meet in Italy on Friday night. The visitors will also need no reminding that they have not won at the Stadio di Monigo since February 2012.
GUINNESS PRO12: Friday, September 12
BENETTON TREVISO (12th) v MUNSTER (8th), Stadio di Monigo, 8pm local time/7pm Irish time
Team News: Munster head coach Anthony Foley has named his 23-man squad to face Benetton Treviso and it sees two of Ireland’s summer tourists return to the fold, with Felix Jones to captain the province for the first time.
In total, the starting line-up includes eight personnel changes to the team that lost the league opener at home to Edinburgh last Friday night.
It was expected that Paul O’Connell would make his return to action in Treviso, however he was a late withdrawal due to personal reasons and did not travel with the squad.
James Cronin returns to the front row for the first time after making his Ireland senior debut in Argentina, linking up with hooker Duncan Casey and tighthead prop Stephen Archer who are both promoted from the bench.
David Foley also steps up in the second row where he is partnered by Billy Holland who makes his second start in as many weeks.
CJ Stander retains his place at blindside flanker with Tommy O’Donnell making his first start of the season in the number 7 jersey.
Having made his first Munster appearance against London Irish in the pre-season clash and after missing out on selection last week due to bruised ribs, Robin Copeland is set to make his competitive debut for Munster at number 8.
Duncan Williams and Ian Keatley are retained at half-back, while Ivan Dineen makes his first start of the new PRO12 campaign at inside centre with Andrew Smith moving to the outside channel.
Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway retain their places on the left and right wings respectively, with returning full-back Jones captaining the side for the first time.
Meanwhile, there are two changes to the Benetton Treviso team for their first home fixture of the new league run.
Ex-Old Belvedere and Leinster back rower Leo Auva’a is replaced at number 8 by Mat Luamanu, who previously played for Wellington and the Auckland Blues.
Henry Seniloli, who was capped by Fiji last November, gets a chance to impress at half-back alongside Englishman Joe Carlisle who kicked a conversion and two penalties against the Ospreys in round 1.
Treviso are now coached by Umberto Casellato and his reign got off to a disappointing start last weekend when they leaked five tries in a 44-13 defeat in Swansea.
BENETTON TREVISO: Simone Ragusi; Ludovico Nitoglia, Luca Morisi, Sam Christie, Michele Campagnaro; Joe Carlisle, Henry Seniloli; Matteo Muccignat, Davide Giazzon, Rupert Harden, Marco Fuser, Corniel van Zyl (capt), Meyer Swanepoel, Tomas Vallejos Cinalli, Mat Luamanu.
Replacements: Giovanni Maistri, Matteo Zanusso, Salesi Manu, Marco Lazzaroni, Marco Barbini, Alberto Sgarbi, Angelo Esposito, James Ambrosini.
MUNSTER: Felix Jones (capt); Andrew Conway, Andrew Smith, Ivan Dineen, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Duncan Casey, Stephen Archer, David Foley, Billy Holland, CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell, Robin Copeland.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, John Ryan, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, Cathal Sheridan, Johnny Holland, Ronan O’Mahony.
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Giuseppe Vivarini, Claudio Blessano (both Italy)
Television Match Official: Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Benetton Treviso to win: 13/5; Draw: 22/1; Munster to win: 1/4
Pre-Match Quotes: Anthony Foley (Munster) – “Last week’s defeat came down to Edinburgh turning up physically and us not playing well at our own ground- and that hurt.
“We’ve a few more (players) back this week. It is good to have these guys back, they have been training so hard and are enthusiastic to get back in.
“Treviso are a good side. They play very well at home. Teams have gone there in the past and come up short. If you don’t go over there with the right mentality and put up a good show you are not going to have a chance.”
Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Benetton Treviso – Points: Joe Carlisle 8; Tries: Marco Fuser 1; Munster – Points: CJ Stander 10; Tries: CJ Stander 2
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, January 7, 2012 – Munster 29 Benetton Treviso 11, Thomond Park
Saturday, February 18, 2012 – Benetton Treviso 14 Munster 35, Stadio di Monigo
Friday, September 7, 2012 – Munster 19 Benetton Treviso 6, Thomond Park
Sunday, February 24, 2013 – Benetton Treviso 34 Munster 10, Stadio di Monigo
Friday, September 20, 2013 – Benetton Treviso 29 Munster 19, Stadio di Monigo
Saturday, March 22, 2014 – Munster 14 Benetton Treviso 3, Thomond Park
– Benetton Treviso have slipped to four straight GUINNESS PRO12 defeats since their 45-27 victory at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons in April
– The Italians have not beaten Irish opposition since Connacht visited the Stadio di Monigo in round 5 last season
– Munster have now lost their last three PRO12 encounters but have not begun a season with a pair of defeats since the 2004/05 campaign
– The Munstermen’s lone loss in their last five fixtures against Italian opponents came in this equivalent
fixture in Treviso in round 3 last season
– Treviso have won three of their last six encounters with Munster, while the Reds’ only previous PRO12 victory at the Stadio di Monigo came in February 2012