Jump to main content


GUINNESS PRO12 Preview: Zebre v Munster

GUINNESS PRO12 Preview: Zebre v Munster

Italy has been a happy hunting ground for Munster, with wins on three of their last four visits, and they will be determined to get back to winning ways in the GUINNESS PRO12 against bottom side Zebre.

GUINNESS PRO12: Saturday, January 10

ZEBRE (12th) v MUNSTER (3rd), Stadio XXV Aprile, 4pm local time/3pm Irish time (live Nuvolari TV/highlights TG4)

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Team News: Munster head coach Anthony Foley has named his side to face Zebre in round 13 of the GUINNESS PRO12 in Parma on Saturday. The returning Keith Earls and James Cronin will be on bench duty.

Having successfully rehabbed a knee injury sustained at an Ireland training camp during pre-season, Earls (pictured below) could make his first appearance of the season for Munster after being named among the replacements for this weekend’s clash in Italy.

Prop Cronin could also feature from the bench after recovering from a shoulder injury sustained during the province’s European Champions Cup defeat to Clermont Auvergne at the start of December.

In total, Anthony Foley has made seven personnel changes to the team that started against Connacht in the New Year’s Day defeat in Galway.

In the front row Eusebio Guinazu makes his first start for the province, doing so at loosehead prop alongside hooker Kevin O’Byrne and tighthead Stephen Archer, both of whom come back into the starting line-up.

The return of Dave Foley to the second row will see Billy Holland wear the number 5 jersey this weekend, while, in the back row, number 8 CJ Stander is the only player to remain in place from the Sportsground loss. Dave O’Callaghan makes his first start since returning from injury at blindside with captain Peter O’Mahony moving to openside for the first time this season.

Conor Murray resumes his half-back partnership with Ian Keatley, and JJ Hanrahan and Pat Howard continue in midfield at inside and outside centre respectively.

There is just one personnel change in the back-three as Felix Jones come in at full-back. Simon Zebo reverts back to the left wing and Ronan O’Mahony features on the opposite flank.

The game at the Stadio XXV Aprile will be televised in Italy on Nuvolari TV and not broadcast on Irish or UK channels. You can follow live updates on the Munster Rugby Twitter page.

Meanwhile, Zebre have slipped to back-to-back derby defeats to Italian rivals Benetton Treviso – 26-16 and 17-15 – and lie bottom of the PRO12 table.

Head coach Andrea Cavinato, who now has newly-arrived skills coach Roland de Marigny as part of his management team, has made four changes in personnel.

Giovanbattista Venditti, top points scorer Kelly Haimona and former All Black scrum half Brendon Leonard all return to the starting back-line, while Luca Redolfini replaces Dario Chistolini at tighthead prop.

Samuela Vunisa scored Zebre’s only try in their 31-5 away loss to Munster back in September, but the Fijian back rower is one of several absentees for the rematch due to injury.

ZEBRE: David Odiete; Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Iannone, Kelly Haimona, Leonardo Sarto; Edoardo Padovani, Brendon Leonard; Andrea de Marchi, Andrea Manici, Luca Redolfini, Quintin Geldenhuys, Marco Bortolami (capt), Filippo Cristiano, Mauro Bergamasco, Andries van Schalkwyk.

Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani, Luciano Leibson, Dario Chistolini, Valerio Bernabò, Jacopo Sarto, Luciano Orquera, Mirco Bergamasco, Guglielmo Palazzani.

MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Ronan O’Mahony, Pat Howard, JJ Hanrahan, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Eusebio Guinazu, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer, Dave Foley, Billy Holland, Dave O’Callaghan, Peter O’Mahony (capt), CJ Stander.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, James Cronin, John Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paddy Butler, Duncan Williams, Keith Earls, Johne Murphy.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini, Filippo Bertelli (both Italy)
Television Match Official: Stefano Penne (Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Zebre to win: 7/2; Draw: 25/1; Munster to win: 1/5

Pre-Match Quotes: Ian Costello (Munster) – “What was disappointing for us over the last two weeks is to raise our standards against Leinster and probably our most comprehensive performance of the season when we looked and analysed it, then to let ourselves down against Connacht when we conceded some soft tries.

“We have to establish that consistency to go into these games. Zebre are a good side at home, I know some of their results recently haven’t really shown that but they have got some quality players.

“If we look beyond that or we are in any way complacent, I think we will be punished at the weekend – we don’t have the luxury. We got lucky last weekend with other results in the PRO12 but we have things under our control and that is going out and getting four points on Saturday.

“Zebre have beaten Ulster and we are well aware of that. Last weekend they were narrowly beaten by Treviso, but a lot of their key players only came off the bench at half-time.”

Dave O’Callaghan (Munster) – “After losing to Connacht last weekend and getting a good win over Leinster the week before we’ve been a bit erratic in terms of performances, so we’ll be looking to get that consistency back and win some momentum.

“Zebre is the sole focus for us this week. We’ll be looking to put right the things that didn’t go well against Connacht. We need to get ourselves on the front foot and be clinical in everything we do.

“It’s going to be a massive challenge this weekend against Zebre. We know they’ll be physical but we want to put a marker down and try to win that battle.

“They beat Ulster down there and used their physicality well. They’ll come at us and be exactly like Connacht were at home, so we’ll have to be physical and match them from the off.”

Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Zebre – Points: Kelly Haimona 49; Tries: Samuela Vunisa, Giulio Bisegni, Brendon Leonard 2 each; Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 92; Tries: Robin Copeland, CJ Stander, Simon Zebo 4 each


Friday, October 26, 2012 – Munster 29 Zebre 3, Thomond Park
Friday, May 3, 2013 – Zebre 25 Munster 27, Stadio XXV Aprile
Friday, September 13, 2013 – Zebre 21 Munster 43, Stadio XXV Aprile
Saturday, February 15, 2014 – Munster 36 Zebre 8, Musgrave Park
Friday, September 19, 2014 – Munster 31 Zebre 5, Thomond Park


– Zebre have now slipped to three successive GUINNESS PRO12 defeats since their 18-10 victory over Edinburgh in Parma in round 9

– Zebre’s only previous victory in 25 encounters with Irish provinces in all competitions came at home to Ulster on September 27

– Munster’s only victory in their last five fixtures in all competitions was 28-13 at home to Leinster in the PRO12 on December 26

– Munster have not been victorious on the road since a trip to the Newport Gwent Dragons in the PRO12 on November 21, but they have won on three of their last four visits to Italy

– The two sides have met on five previous occasions with Munster successful every time – four times with a try-scoring bonus point