PRO14 Preview: Friday
There are three matches scheduled for Friday with Munster, Glasgow Warriors and Scarlets hosting Dragons, Leinster and Benetton respectively.
Munster v Dragons
Munster will be led by Billy Holland who is set to make his 170th appearance for the province having started all nine of their games so far this season.
Simon Zebo is named at full-back with new signing Chris Cloete making his debut as Darren Sweetnam, Chris Farrell and Ian Keatley are all in the matchday 23 having been released from Ireland camp.
In all there are 10 changes to the side that faced Connacht last week.
JJ Hanrahan and Duncan Williams make up the half-back pairing with Sweetnam and Alex Wootton, Munster’s top try-scorer this term with five tries, on the wings.
Rory Scannell and Farrell maintain their centre partnership.
Rhys Marshall keeps his place at hooker with Greencore Academy player Liam O’Connor and tighthead Stephen Archer on either side of the front row.
Jean Kleyn comes in to partner Holland in the engine room as Rassie Erasmus names an exciting back row trio of Jack O’Donoghue, Cloete and Robin Copeland.
Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin and Brian Scott provide the front row cover with Cronin and Scott set for their second appearances of the season.
Darren O’Shea is set for his first senior appearance of the campaign with on-loan Mark Flanagan completing the forward cover.
James Hart, Keatley and Sam Arnold – who is also in line for his first senior game of the season – are the backline replacements.
Meanwhile, Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman has made 10 changes to the team that played against Ospreys, as four of the Dragons who took part have been named in the Wales squad for November.
One of those 10 changes is 20-year-old back-row Aaron Wainwright, who has been named in the starting XV against Munster this weekend. He said: “It’s been nice to get a couple of games and starting in Newcastle and Russia was a good experience.
“I am just enjoying getting a bit of action in the team and I didn’t expect any of this. I was playing at Cardiff Met last year and was meant to be with Newport RFC but after a couple of injuries I was thrown in at the deep end. I am just trying to work hard, keep my head down and have a couple of good games by making an impact.
“There is a lot of new stuff and I missed a lot of pre-season (due to injury), so I’ve had to learn all the lineouts and structure but I think I am fitting in now.”
He continued: “My first bit of action was 10 minutes at the end against the Blues and it was really, really fast but really, really good.
“Against the Ospreys I came on after 10 minutes and I felt more comfortable and that my fitness was up there. The pace was higher than the previous week in Russia but I think that I fitted in quite well and the work rate of the boys around me spurred me on.
“I wasn’t expecting any of this and when I got called up for the Kings game, even though I didn’t get on, it was just good to be involved.
“Going through the team run and being part of the routine of the match-day squad just makes you want to do it again the next week.”
With Hallam Amos one of those picked in the Wales squad, Will Talbot-Davies is named at full-back in the back three alongside wings Ashton Hewitt and Jared Rosser.
The centre partnership has one change made to it as Jack Dixon is joined by Adam Warren, who replaces Tyler Morgan due to injury. The half-backs are all change as Angus O’Brien and Charlie Davies are given the nod, as Sarel Pretorius is named on the bench.
The front row is all change as Gerard Ellis is named as hooker with props Thomas Davies and Lloyd Fairbrother moving from the bench into the starting XV.
The second row sees lock Rynard Landman join Joe Davies, as flanker Aaron Wainwright joins James Benjamin and number eight James Sheekey who gets his first start for the Dragons.
Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Billy Holland (c), 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Liam O’Connor
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 James Cronin, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Mark Flanagan, 21 James Hart, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Sam Arnold
Dragons: 15 Will Talbot-Davies, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 James Sheekey, 7 James Benjamin, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Gerard Ellis, 1 Thomas Davies
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Scott Andrews, 20 Ben Roach, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Pat Howard
Date: Friday, November 3
Venue: Irish Independent Park
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Keith Allen (Scotland), John Carvill (Ireland)
Glasgow Warriors v Leinster
Openside flanker Callum Gibbins will captain Glasgow Warriors as Leinster come to Scotstoun for the second time in two weeks.
Gibbins arrived from the Hurricanes this summer and has quickly cemented himself as a fans favourite in Glasgow. He will lead a side that sees 11 players involved in Autumn International squads recalled.
George Horne is rewarded for his man of the match performance against the Southern Kings, retaining the number nine shirt and will start alongside his brother Pete in a Glasgow jersey for the first time.
Nick Grigg and Ruaridh Jackson both return from a week at Oriam to slot into the starting line-up. Sam Johnson joins Grigg in the centre while Lelia Masaga and Niko Matawalu start on the wings.
Jamie Bhatti, George Turner and Scott Cummings could all be in line to make their Scotland debuts this Autumn, they all pack down in the tight five and are joined by D’Arcy Rae and Tim Swinson.
Rob Harley joins captain Gibbins in the back row while Matt Fagerson will steer the back of the scrum.
On the bench, Alex Dunbar returns from an injury he sustained against Cardiff Blues in September. Henry Pyrgos and Leonardo Sarto are the other returning internationals involved.
Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie said: “It’s been a different week, we’ve had 19 guys in camp with Scotland but we’ve just got on with things.
“Tactically things aren’t going to change from the last time we played Leinster we just need to do things better.
“Cully (Callum Gibbins) has been here all week helping the team prepare which made making him captain a pretty simple decision.
“He’s a good man, he’s earned the respect of his teammates through the way he plays and contributes an awful lot to this club. He was the obvious choice to be captain tomorrow night.”
Meanwhile, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made several changes to his matchday 23 for this fixture.
There is a debut from inside centre for Westmeath man Conor O’Brien, while fellow Leinster Academy player Josh Murphy is also in line for a debut from the bench.
Cullen is also able to call upon four players named in the Irish squad for the Autumn International Series earlier this week.
Having impressed off the bench in Kingspan Stadium last week, Jordan Larmour starts at full-back against Glasgow with Adam Byrne and Dave Kearney on the right and left wing respectively.
In the centre, 21-year-old O’Brien makes his first start in Leinster senior colours having impressed for the Leinster ‘A’ team in the B&I Cup in recent weeks. Outside O’Brien will be Rory O’Loughlin.
Once again this week Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne will form the half-back partnership for Leinster.
In the pack it’s a new look front row this week with Ed Byrne, Seán Cronin and Michael Bent selected, while in the second row Ross Molony captains the side with Clontarf’s Mick Kearney beside him.
Scott Fardy starts in the back row for the first time in his Leinster career, with Jordi Murphy selected at openside flanker and Max Deegan at number eight.
On the bench former St. Michael’s student Josh Murphy is in line to make his Leinster senior debut. The 22-year-old was a consistent performer for Leinster in the pre-season friendlies until picking up a jaw injury against Gloucester.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Peter Horne, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Callum Gibbins (c), 6 Rob Harley, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 D’Arcy Rae, 2 George Turner, 1 Jamie Bhatti
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Adam Nicol, 19 Lewis Wynne, 20 Matt Smith, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Alex Dunbar, 23 Leonardo Sarto
Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Conor O’Brien, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Ross Molony (c), 3 Michael Bent, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Ed Byrne
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Josh Murphy, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Hugo Keenan
Date: Friday, November 3
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Scarlets v Benetton
Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac can call on the services of centres Scott Williams and Hadleigh Parkes and back-row John Barclay, all released from their international camps for the championship clash at Parc y Scarlets.
Williams will captain the side as the Scarlets look to secure their seventh victory in the PRO14 to keep them atop of Conference B with the championship taking a fortnight’s break after round eight’s completion.
Barclay will make his first appearance in Scarlets colours since suffering a concussion against Edinburgh at the end of September. Barclay’s return sees Tadhg Beirne move to blindside flank with Will Boyde on the openside. Lewis Rawlins and David Bulbring partner up in the second row with Dylan Evans, Ryan Elias and Werner Kruger packing down in the front row.
Johnny McNicholl moves to full-back with Paul Asquith coming in on the wing. Winger Tom Prydie, fly-half Dan Jones and scrum-half Jonathan Evans will make their first competitive starts for the region.
Looking ahead to the challenge head coach Pivac said; “It’s probably our biggest test since we took over as a coaching group.
“It’s exciting. We’ve talked about how well we’ve gone in the last few years during the international windows and this is the biggest test for that particular group of people.
“We want to put on a good display as a team so everybody can hopefully enjoy the success and enjoy what has been a proud run at home in this competition.
“Having said that we’re expecting a big challenge. It’s a home game, we see all home games as a must win for us and if they come over fully loaded we’ll be very happy to come out of it with a win. It’s definitely a target of ours to get four points.”
Meanwhile, Benetton head coach Kieran Crowley has made 10 changes to his starting XV that lost at home to Edinburgh last weekend.
In the back-line, Jayden Hayward lines up at full-back alongside Angelo Esposito and Andrea Bronzini, who are on the wings. Tommaso Benvenuti and Ignacio Brex will form the midfield combination.
The half backs are Giorgio Bronzini, who starts at scrum-half, and fly-half Ian McKinley.
The front row will consist of Tomas Baravalle, who packs down at hooker, with Cherif Traore and Tiziano Pasquali the starting props.
Alessandro Zanni and Federico Ruzza will pack down in the second row. Finally, the back row sees Whetu Douglas and Nasi Manu starting on the flanks with captain Robert Barbieri (number eight) completing the XV chosen by Crowley.
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams (c), 11 Paul Asquith, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 John Barclay, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Dylan Evans
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Rhys Fawcett, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Tom Price, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Declan Smith, 22 Rhys Jones, 23 Steff Hughes
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Ignacio Brex, 11 Andrea Bronzini, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 8 Robert Barbieri (c), 7 Nasi Manu, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Tomas Baravalle, 1 Cherif Traore
Replacements: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Filippo Filippetto, 19 Marco Lazzaroni, 20 Sebastian Negri, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Alberto Sgarbi, 23 Luca Sperandio
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