Springbok star makes long-awaited return for Munster while Six Nations pair start for Edinburgh

David Skippers
RG Snyman of Munster during the United Rugby Championship 2022/23 Grand Final between Stormers and Munster held at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town

RG Snyman of Munster during the United Rugby Championship 2022/23 Grand Final between Stormers and Munster held at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town.

The United Rugby Championship resumes on Friday as two matches take place, with the Scarlets and Zebre Parma hosting Munster and Edinburgh in their respective fixtures.

Scarlets v Munster

Dan Jones will make his 150th Scarlets appearance when the United Rugby Championship action returns on Friday night with the visit of Munster to Parc y Scarlets.

The fly-half hasn’t played since the Barbarians match in September, having suffered a serious hamstring tear in pre-season training.

The 28-year-old Carmarthen product made his Scarlets debut 10 years ago and has been a mainstay of the squad ever since.

Jones comes into a much-changed matchday 23 captained for the first time by Tonga international second-row Sam Lousi, who makes a welcome return from injury.

Wales international Johnny McNicholl is another to return after a spell on the sidelines. He slots in at full-back in a new-look back three. Tomi Lewis, who impressed off the bench in the Challenge Cup defeat to Edinburgh, is handed the starting jersey on the right wing, and the versatile Ioan Nicholas gets the nod on the left.

In the centre, Joe Roberts has been released from Wales duty to partner Eddie James, who returned from injury in the friendly against Exeter Chiefs last weekend.

Jones wears the number 10 jersey and links up with Archie Hughes, who turned 21 this week.

Up front, Kemsley Mathias is another Six Nations squad member released by Warren Gatland, and he packs down in the front-row alongside South African Eduan Swart and tighthead Harri O’Connor.

In the second-row, Lousi is back after overcoming a calf issue and he partners Alex Craig.

New signing Jarrod Taylor, who arrived this week from the Stormers, goes straight into the starting line-up at blindside flanker. Vaea Fifita, who has been linked with a move to France, continues at eight with Dan Davis at openside.

The bench includes fit-again British and Irish Lions prop Wyn Jones and 18-year-old Wales U20s hooker Harry Thomas, who is in line to make his senior debut. A product of New Dock Stars RFC, Thomas was captain of the Scarlets U18s last season.

RG Snyman returns for Munster

Meanwhile, there are seven changes to the Munster side that beat Crusaders two weeks ago, with Mike Haley and RG Snyman back from injury to make their first starts of the season.

Oli Jager, Jeremy Loughman and Conor Murray all come into the starting XV after returning from international duty.

Tom Ahern and Niall Scannell start after missing the Crusaders clash due to injury, with Ahern partnering Snyman in the second-row.

22-year-old back-row forward Alex Kendellen captains Munster in the URC for the first time after leading the team against the Crusaders.

Three Munster Academy players are included in the squad as 20-year-old Ruadhán Quinn keeps his place for his first start in the URC.

Haley makes his 98th start at full-back for Munster with Seán O’Brien and Shane Daly on either wing.

Murray and Joey Carbery start together in the half-backs as Alex Nankivell and Antoine Frisch continue their centre partnership.

Loughman, Scannell and Jager pack down in the front-row with Ahern and Snyman in the engine room. Quinn, Kendellen and Gavin Coombes complete the starting XV as Coombes returns to his more familiar position of number eight.

Eoghan Clarke, who signed a new contract this week, Josh Wycherley and John Ryan provide the front-row back-up.

Fineen Wycherley and Jack O’Sullivan complete the forward cover, with O’Sullivan in line for his first URC appearance of the campaign.

Rory Scannell and academy duo Ethan Coughlan and Shay McCarthy are the backline replacements.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tomi Lewis, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Eddie James, 11 Ioan Nicholas, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Archie Hughes, 8 Vaea Fifita, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Jarrod Taylor, 5 Sam Lousi (c), 4 Alex Craig, 3 Harri O’Connor, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Kemsley Mathias
16 Harry Thomas, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Jac Price, 20 Teddy Leatherbarrow, 21 Efan Jones, 22 Charlie Titcombe, 23 Steff Evans

Munster15 Mike Haley, 14 Seán O’Brien, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Shane Daly 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Alex Kendellen (c), 6 Ruadhán Quinn, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Tom Ahern, 3 Oli Jager, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman
16 Eoghan Clarke, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 John Ryan, 19 Fineen Wycherley, 20 Jack O’Sullivan, 21 Ethan Coughlan, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Shay McCarthy

Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Ian Kenny (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Tom Spurrier (Wales)
TMO: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

Zebre-Parma v Edinburgh

After three weekends of rest, largely due to the start of the Six Nations, Zebre return to action against Edinburgh at Stadio Lanfranchi on Friday night.

Zebre, who have achieved three victories and a draw this season, will be boosted by the release of six players from Italy’s Six Nations squad. They are: wing duo Pierre Bruno and Simone Gesi, second-row Matteo Canali and the front-row trio of Matteo Nocera, Marco Manfredi and Luca Rizzoli.

Bruno and Gesi line up in the back three alongside Geronimo Prisciantelli, who starts at full-back, while captain Luca Morisi and Damiano Mazza are the centre combination with Giovanni Montemauri and Gonzalo Garcia forming a halfback combination.

In the forwards, Davide Ruggeri is the starting number eight with Iacopo Bianchi and Bautista Stavile, the starting flankers, while Canali forms a second-row partnership with Leonard Krumov.

In the front-row, Nocera packs down at tighthead prop and is joined by Luca Bigi (hooker) and Muhamed Hasa (loosehead), who also returns to action having recovered from a minor injury.

Manfredi and Rizzoli are amongst the front-row replacements alongside Taina Fox-Matamua and Giovanni Licata, who are also back from injury to take their spots on the bench as loose forward and backline cover.

Scotland half-backs

Meanwhile, Scotland half-backs Ben Healy and Ali Price start as two of seven internationals released in the Edinburgh line-up.

Harry Paterson – who enjoyed an impressive international debut against France on Saturday – WP Nel, Glen Young and Jamie Ritchie all start in Parma, with Javan Sebastian selected among the replacements.

Argentine star Emiliano Boffelli starts at full-back, with Chris Dean and Paterson named on the wings. Centres James Lang and Matt Currie link-up in midfield alongside Price and Healy at half-back.

Up front, centurion Nel recovers from a neck strain to start at tighthead prop alongside Dave Cherry (hooker) and Boan Venter (loosehead prop).

Locks Marshall Sykes and Young combine in the engine room as Ritchie, Hamish Watson (openside) and Viliame Mata (number eight) form a formidable back-row unit.

British and Irish Lion Watson becomes just the 11th player in club history to reach 150 appearances and is the only back-rower to feature in the ‘150 club’.

The Scottish capital side are further bolstered by prop Luan de Bruin (back) and wing/full-back Nathan Sweeney’s (hamstring) return to full fitness, with both players named among the replacements.

Sitting in sixth place in the Championship, the capital side return to league action for the first time since defeating Glasgow Warriors in front of a club-record 37,904 crowd at Scottish Gas Murrayfield in December.

The teams:

Zebre-Parma15 Geronimo Prisciantelli, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Luca Morisi (c), 12 Damiano Mazza, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Giovanni Montemauri, 9 Gonzalo Garcia, 8 Davide Ruggeri, 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Bautista Stavile, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 Matteo Canali, 3 Matteo Nocera, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Muhamed Hasa
16 Marco Manfredi, 17 Luca Rizzoli, 18 Riccardo Genovese, 19 Dylan de Leeuw, 20 Taina Fox-Matamua, 21 Alessandro Fusco, 22 Scott Gregory, 23 Giovanni Licata

Edinburgh15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Harry Paterson, 13 Matt Currie, 12 James Lang, 11 Chris Dean, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ali Price, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie (c), 5 Glen Young, 4 Marshall Sykes, 3 WP Nel, 2 Dave Cherry, 1 Boan Venter
16 Paddy Harrison, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Tom Dodd, 20 Connor Boyle, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Mark Bennett, 23 Nathan Sweeney

Venue: Stadio Lanfranchi
Kick-off: 20:35 local (19:35 GMT)
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy), Manuel Bottino (Italy)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

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