Zebre’s first ever trip to Thomond Park coincides with JJ Hanrahan’s elevation to the Munster starting line-up and the welcome inclusion of the fit-again Felix Jones at full-back.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, October 26
MUNSTER (5th) v ZEBRE (12th), Thomond Park, 7.45pm (live TG4)
Team News: Five days after making his Heineken Cup debut off the bench against Edinburgh, JJ Hanrahan will return to Thomond Park to make his first senior start for Munster when they host Zebre on Friday night.
The 20-year-old Hanrahan has been named at inside centre, partnering New Zealander Casey Laulala in a Munster starting line-up that shows nine changes to the one that started last Sunday.
One of those changes is positional, Donnacha Ryan moving from blindside flanker to lock in place of Paul O’Connell, while five others, including Kerry youngster Hanrahan, were involved as replacements in the bonus point win over Edinburgh.
This time around, the fit-again Felix Jones starts ahead of Denis Hurley at full-back and Duncan Williams takes over from Conor Murray at scrum half.
In the pack, Stephen Archer is in ahead of BJ Botha in the front row and Paddy Butler now wears the number 8 jersey with Peter O’Mahony, who anchored the scrum the last day, operating at openside for the visit of the Italians.
Munster v Zebre tickets are available to buy online here. You can also purchase them from the ticket offices at Thomond Park and Musgrave Park or by calling 061-421103 or 021-4315767.
Meanwhile, Zebre’s fourth away match in the RaboDirect PRO12 sees them making their first visit to Thomond Park to play Munster.
There is a familiar face on the Italian club’s replacements bench in the shape of Corkman David Ryan, who made 12 appearances in the red of Munster.
Three of Zebre’s five players selected for Italy’s November internationals have been rested – second row Quintin Geldenhuys, flanker Mauro Bergamasco and winger Giovanbattista Venditti.
The two others, hooker Davide Giazzon and out-half Luciano Orquera, will start on the bench in Limerick, while there are first competitive starts for a couple of promising Italian youngsters – Parma-born hooker Andrea Manici and winger David Odiete who played against Biarritz Olympique last Saturday in the Heineken Cup.
Odiete’s inclusion is one of two changes in the backs from that game with Alberto Chiesa also earning a call-up at out-half.
Regular props Luca Redolfini and Salvatore Perugini will make their third straight league appearances, in front of a new second row of Josh Sole and Emiliano Caffini.
Filippo Cristiano comes in at openside flanker to cover for Bergamasco with South African number 8 Andries van Schalkwyk, Zebre’s most used player so far in this season’s league, hoping to add to the late try he scored against Biarritz.
MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Luke O’Dea, Casey Laulala, JJ Hanrahan, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; David Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, Donncha Ryan, David O’Callaghan, Peter O’Mahony, Paddy Butler.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Marcus Horan, BJ Botha, Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, Conor Murray, Johne Murphy, Denis Hurley.
ZEBRE: Ruggero Trevisan; David Odiete, Gonzalo Garcia (capt), Daniel Halangahu, Matteo Pratichetti; Alberto Chiesa, Luca Martinelli; Salvatore Perugini, Andrea Manici, Luca Redolfini, Emiliano Caffini, Josh Sole, Filippo Ferrarini, Filippo Cristiano, Andries van Schalkwyk.
Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Matias Aguero, David Ryan, Filippo Cazzola, Nicola Belardo, Tito Tebaldi, Luciano Orquera, Leonardo Sarto.
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, David Connolly (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Jude Quinn (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/250; Draw: 66/1; Zebre to win: 25/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Rob Penney (Munster) – “It is always a real challenge when you come off an emotional high (like a bonus point win) to be able to get the levels back up again to ensure you have a good performance.
“We have talked about it, the short turnaround (from the Edinburgh game) and it is a challenge for sure. Although Zebre have not got much success on the track, they have been really a challenge for the teams they played against.
“They have played some good footy and they battled right up to the end on a number of occasions, so we would be silly to underestimate them.
“We have had a lot of away games – it was great to get back to Thomond last week and on the back of last week I think we have made progress.
“We have got a bit of a run at home now which is wonderful; we’re learning about every player each day.”
Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 56; Tries: Ian Keatley, Conor Murray 2 each; Zebre – Points: Luciano Orquera 29; Tries: Samuele Pace, Andries van Schalkwyk, Sinoti Sinoti, Luciano Orquera, Luca Redolfini 1 each
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
– Munster returned to winning ways after three straight defeats last Sunday with their 33-0 victory over Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup
– The Munstermen have won all five home games in all competitions this season
– Munster have never been defeated on home soil by an Italian side
– Zebre are still awaiting a debut victory for the new franchise, with the only league point gleaned so far coming in their 22-19 defeat at Glasgow Warriors in round 5 of the RaboDirect PRO12