MUNSTER will be looking to avoid losing their opening two Guinness PRO12 fixtures for the first time in 10 years when Anthony Foley’s charges face Benetton Treviso at Stadio Monigo tonight, Friday, 7pm (Irish time).
A disappointing opening weekend defeat at home to Edinburgh at Thomond Park has left Munster desperate to get back to winning ways against the Italian side. Tonight’s game is not being televised live although updates on twitter will be available.
Anthony Foley has made eight changes in personnel from the team that lost the league opener for tonight’s clash with Treviso.
It was expected that Paul O’Connell would make his return to action in Italy. 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 Irish senior debut on the Summer Tour to Argentina and is joined in the front row by hooker Duncan Casey and tighthead Stephen Archer. Both Casey and Archer are promoted to a starting position having featured as replacements last weekend.
In the second row, Dave Foley is another promoted from the bench to a starting position and is partnered by Billy Holland who makes his second start in as many weeks.
CJ Stander retains his place at 6, with Tommy O’Donnell making his first start of the season at 7. Having made his first Munster appearance against London Irish in the pre-season SEAT Challenge and after missing out on selection last week due to bruised ribs, Robin Copeland is set to make his competitive debut for Munster at 8.
As you were at half-back with Duncan Williams and Ian Keatley lining out again at 9 and 10 respectively.
In the centre Ivan Dineen makes his first PRO12 start of the season at inside centre with Andrew Smith moving to outside channel for this weekend’s clash.
While in the back three, Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway retain their places on the left and right wings respectively, with returning international full-back Felix Jones captaining the side for the first time and making his first appearance of the new season.
Treviso lost their opening PRO12 fixture away to Ospreys.
MUNSTER: Felix Jones - capt, Andrew Conway, Andrew Smith, Ivan Dineen, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Duncan Casey, Stephen Archer; Dave 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
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.