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Preview: Munster v Zebre

14th February 2014 07:36

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Record: Donncha O'Callaghan

Ireland cap Donnacha Ryan starts at second-row for Munster as they take on Zebre in the PRO12 at Musgrave Park on Saturday.

Tommy O'Donnell and Felix Jones return from international duty to start as head coach Rob Penney makes nine changes to the side that beat Cardiff Blues 54-13 last week.

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.

Meanwhile, Zebre front-row Tommaso D'Apice is given the nod at hooker alongside Andre De Marchi and Dario Chistollini.

Andries van Schalkwyk skippers the side from the openside flank, while experienced Kiwi and ex-All Black scrum-half Brendon Leonard wears number nine.

Form: Munster's only defeat in their last 13 first team games was to Ulster at Ravenhill in the PRO12 on 3 January

.

The Munstermen are the only side left in the competition with a 100% home winning record this season.

Zebre's 14 league points so far this season have been evenly split with seven points gained in home games and seven more on the road, including three losing bonus points in their last four away games.

Munster have won all three previous matches they have played against Zebre, this will be the Italian's first visit to Musgrave Park.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Johne Murphy, 12 Ian Keatley, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Cathal Sheridan, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland (c), 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 James Cronin
16 Ger Slattery, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Sean Dougall, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Denis Hurley, 23 Andrew Conway

Zebre: 15 Guglielmo Palazzani, 14 David Odiete, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Roberto Quartaroli, 11 Dion Berryman, 10 Ruggero Trevisan, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk (c), 6 Filippo Cristiano, 5 George Biagi, 4 Michael van Vuren, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Andrea De Marchi
Replacements:16 Lorenzo Giovanchelli, 17 Luciano Leibson, 18 David Ryan, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Nicola Cattina, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Giulio Bisegni, 23 Giovanbattista Venditti

Date: Saturday, February 15
Kick-off: 18:45 GMT
Venue: Musgrave Park
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Nigel Correll (Ireland), Dermot Blake (Ireland)
Television match official: Jude Quinn (Ireland)

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Pool 6
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PosTeamPPts
1Munster623
2Gloucester614
3Edinburgh612
4Perpignan67