FIT-AGAIN Donnacha Ryan will make his first appearance for Munster since mid-December after being named in Rob Penney’s starting line-up to face Zebre in the RaboDirect PRO12 at Musgrave Park tomorrow (Saturday) evening, 6.45pm.
Ryan’s return to fitness is a major boost to PRO12 leaders Munster and a successful comeback against the Italians tomorrow night could well see the lock forward feature in the Ireland squad for next weekend’s big RBS Six Nations Championship clash with England at Twickenham.
Ireland squad members Tommy O’Donnell and Felix Jones return from international duty to start for Munster in tomorrow evening’s PRO12 clash with Zebre as coach Penney makes nine changes to the side that beat Cardiff Blues 54-13 last weekend.
Ian Keatley and Johne Murphy form an exciting new centre partnership with Gerhard van den Heever and Simon Zebo keeping their places in the side after both touched down last weekend. Zebo moves to the left wing with Jones coming in at full-back.
Cathal Sheridan makes his first start since injuring his knee against Ulster in January and partners JJ Hanrahan in the half-backs.
Hooker Duncan Casey is the only player that keeps his place in the front row with James Cronin, who is set to earn his 20th cap, and South African BJ Botha coming into the side.
Captain Billy Holland, who recently signed a two-year contract extension, joins Ryan in the second row.
Dave O’Callaghan comes into the back row for his first start since December with O’Donnell returning from international duty and CJ Stander moving to number eight as he maintains his place in the side.
Young Munster hooker Ger Slattery provides the front-row cover alongside Irish international Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan.
Donncha O’Callaghan is poised to make a record-breaking appearance off the bench as he looks to make his 241st appearance and become the most-capped Munster player of all time.
Sean Dougall made his comeback from injury against Cardiff Blues and he is also named on a replacements bench that includes Duncan Williams, Denis Hurley and Andrew Conway.
The meeting of Munster and Zebre will be televised live on RTE2.
MUNSTER - Felix Jones; Gerhard van den Heever, Johne Murphy, Ian Keatley, Simon Zebo; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; James Cronin, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha; Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland (Capt); Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: Ger Slattery, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, Duncan Williams, Denis Hurley, Andrew Conway.