Edinburgh v Ulster
When? Friday, 19:30
Where to watch? Live commentary on BBC Radio Ulster.
The story so far: Both sides have struggled to reproduce their excellent Heineken Cup form in the Pro12 and find themselves languishing in the lower half of the table as a result. Edinburgh have only lost once in their last seven games at Murrayfield while Ulster have won four of their last five in all competitions.
Team news: Andrew Trimble, Stephen Ferris, Tom Court and Rory Best all return to the starting line-up having missed last week’s win over Munster to attend an Ireland training camp. Michael Bradley has named a vastly changed Edinburgh side from the one which lost to Glasgow last weekend. Out-half Phil Goodman is the only back to hold on to his place in the starting XV while in the forwards, the all-international front-row of Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford and Geoff Cross return to action.
Edinburgh: Paterson; Brown, De Luca, King, Visser; Godman, Laidlaw (c); Jacobsen, Ford, Cross; Cox, Lozada; McInally, Grant, Talei. Replacements: Walker, Traynor, Gilding, Gilchrist, MacDonald, Leck, Scott, Thompson.
Ulster:Terblanche; Trimble, Cave, Whitten, Gilroy; Humphreys, Pienaar; Court, Best, Afoa; Muller (c), Tuohy, Ferris, Henry, Wannenburg. Replacements: Kyriacou, Black, Macklin, Stevenson, Faloon, Marshall, Wallace, D’Arcy.
Aironi v Connacht
When? Saturday, 15:35 (16:35 CET)
Where to watch? TG4
The story so far: Connacht’s narrow defeat against Leinster on New Year’s Day means that they are now winless in their last 12 outings. Aironi are currently rooted to the bottom of the Pro12 table with just two wins from 12. The Italians’ only previous success against an Irish side came in this equivalent fixture last season.
Team news: Michael Swift returns to the Connacht second row after sitting out the last two weeks with a knee injury. The 6’5″ lock is joined in the pack by Dylan Rogers who replaces the injured Ronan Loughney at tighthead. In the backs, Eric Elwood has opted for Frank Murphy over Paul O’Donohoe at scrum-half while centre Dave McSharry and winger Fetu’u Vainikolo also return to the starting XV.
Aironi: Masi; Toniolatti, Quartaroli, Pizarro, Sinoti; Orquera, Keats; de Marchi, Santamaria, Staibano; Furno, Bortolami (c); Cattina, Favaro, Sole. Replacements: D’Apice, Perugini, Romano, Geldenhuys, Bergamasco, Tebaldi, Olivier, Benettin.
Connacht: Duffy; Vainikolo, Tonetti, McSharry, O’Halloran; Jarvis, Murphy; Wilkinson, Flavin, Rogers; Swift, McCarthy; Kearney, Muldoon, Naoupu. Replacements: Reynecke, Buckley, Maguire, McKeon, Ofisa, O’Donohoe, O’Connor, Fa’afili.
Cardiff Blues v Leinster
When? Saturday, 18:15
Where to watch? TG4
The story so far: Cardiff will be hoping to make a push into the playoff places with a home win against the Heineken Cup champions. The Blues have won their last four home games and currently lie in fifth, 14 points adrift of Leinster whose nine-game winning streak in the Pro12 has seen them consolidate their position at the top of the table.
Team news: Joe Schmidt has named 12 Irish internationals in his team for tomorrow evening’s trip to Cardiff. Kevin McLaughlin gets the nod alongside Sean O’Brien and captain Jamie Heaslip in the back row, while Gordon D’Arcy returns alongside Fergus McFadden in midfield. Isa Nacewa, Isaac Boss and Fionn Carr all start from the bench.
Cardiff: Henson; Halfpenny, Laulala, Evans, James; Parks, L Williams; Jenkins, Breeze, Andrews; Davies, Paterson; Molitika, Warburton (c), Rush. Replacements: R Williams, Yapp, Hobbs, Cook, Navidi, Rees, Sweeney, Mustoe.
Leinster: R Kearney; D Kearney, McFadden, D’Arcy, Conway; Sexton, Reddan; Healy, Cronin, Ross; Browne, Toner; McLaughlin, O’Brien, Heaslip (c). Replacements: Dundon, van der Merwe, Hagan, Ruddock, Auva’a, Boss, Nacewa, Carr.
Munster v Treviso
When? Saturday, 20:15
Where to watch? RTÉ
The story so far: Munster’s patchy form in the Pro12 has seem them drop to fourth place with just two wins from their last five games in the competition. Treviso scored a 37-14 win at home to Aironi last time out, avenging their surprising defeat in the meeting between the Italian neighbours a week earlier.
Team news: Tony McGahan has made nine personnel changes to the side which lost out to Munster in Ravenhill last Friday night. An ankle injury to Luke O’Dea sees Johne Murphy switch to the right wing and Simon Zebo return on the left while Peter O’Mahony has recovered from a jaw injury to join Niall Ronan and James Coughlan in the back row.
Munster: Hurley; Murphy, Earls, Mafi, Zebo; O’Gara, Murray; du Preez, Varley, Botha; Ryan, O’Connell (c); O’Mahony, Ronan, Coughlan. Replacements: Fogarty, Horan, Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, Holland, O’Leary, Keatley, Barnes.
Treviso: McLean; Nitoglia, Benvenuti, Sgarbi, Williams; Burton, Botes; Rizzo, Sbaraglini, Cittadini; Pavanello (c), van Zyl; Padro, Zanni, Vosawai. Replacements: Vidal, Muccignat, Rouyet, Bernabo, Pavanello, Picone, Gori, di Bernardo.