Guinness PRO12: Friday Preview

Munster have named Paul O’Connell and Conor Murray in their starting XV for Friday’s PRO12 clash with Zebre.

The duo return along with prop Dave Kilcoyne, fly-half JJ Hanrahan, flanker Paddy Butler and centre Denis Hurley as head coach Anthony Foley rings the changes from the side that saw off Treviso 21-10 last week.

Felix Jones has retained the captain’s armband for a second consecutive game and BJ Botha comes into the front-row at tighthead with James Cronin and hooker Duncan Casey retaining their starting places. Billy Holland lines out once again in the second-row and is partnered by the returning O’Connell.

In the back-row, Butler makes his first appearance of the season on the blindside, with openside flanker Tommy O’Donnell and number eight Robin Copeland remaining in situ from last weekend.

Murray also returns at scrum-half and is joined by Johnny Holland in the half-backs while Hurley opens his account for Munster this season at inside centre, partnering Andrew Smith who takes charge of the outside channel.


Paul O’Connell Returns

Cardiff Blues v Ulster

Cardiff Blues are missing Wales flank Sam Warburton for their game against Ulster, while Rhys Patchell moves to full-back for Friday’s fixture at Arms Park.

Josh Navidi has replaced Warburton in the side in what is an otherwise unchanged forward pack but the backline sees a few alterations as Patchell’s move to number fifteen hands Gareth Davies a start at fly-half alongside Lewis Jones. Gavin Evans and Adam Thomas, the latter in for Cory Allen, will be the centre combination while Richard Smith joins Alex Cuthbert on the wings.

Meanwhile, British and Irish Lions winger Tommy Bowe and Ireland international fly-half Paddy Jackson will play their first match of the season for Ulster this weekend.

They are two of five changes to the side that beat Zebre with Louis Ludik, who started last week’s game on the bench, selected at full-back and he is joined in the back three by two of the 10 Ireland internationals in the side – Andrew Trimble, who starts on the right wing, and Bowe, who is named on the left.

Stuart Olding returns to the starting XV at inside centre, while Darren Cave has recovered from the rib injury that he sustained against Zebre to take his place at outside centre.

Connacht v Leinster

Fergus McFadden comes in to replace the injured Zane Kirchner on the wing for Leinster’s derby with Connacht in Galway.

Ferguson is joined in the run-on side by Rhys Ruddock who starts his first game of the season. Ruddock is set to start wearing the number six jersey, with Dominic Ryan making a positional switch to the openside.

Shane Jennings will start among the replacements and is just two games away from his 200th Leinster appearance. Last Saturday’s man of the match, Jamie Heaslip, completes the back row and will captain Leinster.

Meanwhile, Connacht coach Pat Lam has made one change to his starting line-up for this encounter

Lock Aly Muldowney replaces Mick Kearney for his first start of the season. Irish qualified Muldowney joins the on-loan Quinn Roux in the second row while Galway man John Muldoon will captain the side from the back row.


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