MUNSTER will be aiming to make up for the disappointment of last season when the province failed to make the knock-out stages of the European Cup for only the second time in 17 seasons when Anthony Foley’s charges face Treviso in their opening pool fixture at Thomond Park on Saturday, 5.15pm.
Munster, currently second in the Pro12, could hardly have asked for an easier assignment to kick off their European Champions Cup campaign than a home fixture against the side currently propping up the Pro12 table and without a league win since last February.
Munster will not say as much publicly, of course, but anything less than a bonus point win will be a setback to the province’s hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals with an away date against Stade Francais to come on Sunday week followed by back-to-back fixtures with Leicester. Leicester scored a 33-20, bonus point win over Stade Francais in their opening pool fixture at Welford Road on Friday night.
Munster head coach, Anthony Foley says doing well in Europe is about building momentum.
Foley said: “It doesn’t matter what competition you’re in, it’s all about momentum. You hear it around 6 Nations, World Cups, Guinness Pro12, everybody’s looking for momentum. We’re no different. We’re fortunate we’ve got our first game at home. Every team at home wants to win.”
MUNSTER: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha, Donnacha Ryan, Mark Chisholm, Dave O’Callaghan, Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander (capt). Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, John Ryan, Dave Foley, Robin Copeland, Tomas O’Leary, Rory Scannell, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
BENETTON TREVISO: Luke McLean; Ludovico Nitoglia, Jayden Hayward, Enrico Bacchin, Tommaso Iannone; James Ambrosini, Edoardo Gori; Matteo Zanusso, Ornel Gega, Rupert Harden, Duncan Naude, Jean-François Montauriol, Francesco Minto, Alessandro Zanni (capt), Braam Steyn. Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Matteo Muccignat, Filippo Filippetto, Dean Budd, Marco Barbini, Andrea de Marchi, Chris Smylie, Sam Christie.
REFEREE: Matthew Carley (England)