Munster v Gloucester (Thomond Park, 6pm)
PETER O’MAHONY RETURNS to the back row as Munster look to kick-start their Heineken Cup campaign with a win against Gloucester.
Munster’s captain was rested for the defeat in Edinburgh last week but is recalled by Rob Penney for tomorrow evening’s game in Thomond Park.
James Coughlan is the man to miss out and with Paddy Butler facing a long spell on the sidelines, Donncha Ryan and Niall Ronan complete the back row.
Damien Varley, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan all start in the pack while Johne Murphy is the man chosen to replace the injured Simon Zebo on the left wing.
Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Johne Murphy; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell; Donnacha Ryan, Niall Ronan, Peter O’Mahony (c).
Replacements: Mike Sherry, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, James Coughlan, CJ Stander, Cathal Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan, Denis Hurley.
Zebre v Connacht (Stadio XXV Aprile, 1.35pm)
Connacht coach Pat Lam has made three change to his starting team for the visit to Italy, with in-form wing Matt Healy, Samoan international James So’oialo and Galway native Andrew Browne the new faces.
Browne replaces John Muldoon at blindside flanker, with the Connacht captain having picked up a calf injury in last weekend’s 23-17 defeat to Saracens. Healy comes into the team on the left wing as Fionn Carr drops out of the match-day squad completely, while So’oialo’s inclusion means Gavin Duffy moves to the bench.
There is also welcome return for Dave McSharry as a replacement, with the 24-year-old centre set for his first appearance of the season.
Connacht: James So’oialo; Robbie Henshaw, Craig Ronaldson, Danie Poolman; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Henry, Rodney Ah You; Michael Swift (c), Craig Clarke; Andrew Browne, Jake Heenan, George Naoupu.
Replacements: Jason Harris-Wright, JP Cooney, Ronan Loughney, Aly Muldowney, Mata Fifita, Paul O’Donohoe, Dave McSharry, Gavin Duffy.
Montpellier v Ulster (Stade Yves du Manoir 3.40pm)
Pienaar is back at scrum-half for Ulster. ©INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd.
Mark Anscombe has brought South African scrum-half Ruan Pienaar into his starting XV for the daunting away tie in Montpellier, while Robbie Diack is the only other change to the team that beat the Leicester Tigers last weekend.
Paul Marshall drops to the bench to make way for Pienaar, with Diack benefiting from a Nick Williams calf injury to be included in the side. Roger Wilson moves from the blindside flank to No. 8, with Diack set to wear 6.
All Black prop John Afoa is back on the bench, hoping to make his first appearance of the season.
Ulster: Jared Payne; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Tommy Bowe; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Tom Court, Rory Best, Declan Fitzpatrick; Johann Muller (c), Dan Tuohy; Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, John Afoa, Lewis Stevenson, Iain Henderson, Paul Marshall, Stuart Olding, Michael Allen.
Leinster v Castres (The RDS, 3.40pm)
There is just one change to Leinster’s starting team this weekend, with Marty Moore set for his first Heineken Cup start for the province after Mike Ross failed to recover from the hamstring injury sustained in the 19-9 win over the Ospreys.
That also means that Michael Bent is included on the bench alongside four other Ireland internationals. Jimmy Gopperth retains the number 10 shirt as expected, while Brendan Macken continues at outside centre.
Leinster’s entire pack for the Castres game is Irish-qualified.
Leinster: Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Brendan Macken, Gordon D’Arcy, Dave Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Marty Moore; Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy; Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip (c).
Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Quinn Roux, Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald.