©INPHO/Dan Sheridan The outgoing Lifeimi Mafi shares a joke with Simon Zebo.
# Provincial
Pro12 cheat-sheet: your guide to this weekend's rugby
Four provinces, three games. Time to put that dreadful Six Nations business out of sight and out of mind.

Leinster v Ospreys

When: Friday 7.05

Where to watch: RTE Two

The Story so far: Leinster barely experienced a hitch throughout the taxing period of teh Six Nations and with five games to go, they remain 11 points clear at the summit.

Kicking coach Richie Murphy however, seems intent on planning for the worst but hoping for the best.

“We have a lead in the (pro12) but if we were to be beaten this week and we go down to Munster the following week: all of a sudden that will be very small again.”

The Ospreys are more than capable of inflicting that defeat, they recorded a 27-3 win over Joe Schmidt’s side in the opening game of the season.

Steve Tandy’s side occupy third place in the table, so they are still scrapping for a play-off place whereas Leinster’s will be all but secure if they claim four points tonight.

Team news: Well, well well; what do we have here? It’s only Brian O’Driscoll and Brad Thorn ready to get back in the full swing of top class rugby having not tasted such a thing since the World Cup. Thorn of course, had been knocking round Japan in the meantime while BOD was recovering from shoulder surgery.

Fringe players from Ireland’s ill-fated Six Nations squad reported back to training this week so Fergus McFadden, Sean Cronin, Eoin O’Malley and Dave Kearney will all be involved.

Ireland’s front line internationals could get their first chance back in blue in Thomond Park next week.

Leinster: I Nacewa; D Kearney, B O’Driscoll, F McFadden, L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, I Boss: H Van Der Merwe, R Strauss, N White; L Cullen (capt.) B Thorn; R Ruddock, D Ryan, L Auva’a.

Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, J Hagan, D Browne, K McLaughlin, J Cooney, E O’Malley, F Carr.

Ospreys: R Fussell; H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, E Walker; D BIggar, K Fouali’i: P James, R Hibbard, A Jarvis; R Jones, AW Jones (capt.); T Smith, J Tipuric, G Stowers.

Replacements: S Baldwin, R Bevington, A Jones, I Evans, J king, R Webb, M Morgan, T Isaacs.

Treviso v Ulster

When: Saturday 4.15

Where to watch: Only scheduled for Italian TV at time of writing.

The Story so far: The northern province have lost just one of their five Pro12 games this year. They appear to blow hot and cold during every game, relying on a spark on inspiration from somewhere to cancel out some mediocre phases.

It works well enough. Brian Mcloughlin’s side are decently poised in fifth place, a single point behind Glasgow.

16 points behind Cardiff Blues, Treviso are the best of the bottom five teams but have not won yet this year. Their last outing (a 13-20 defeat to the Blues) was the first time they claimed so much as a bonus point since beating Aironi on New Year’s Eve.

Team news: Captain Johann Muller and Darren Cave return to the starting line-up after being sidelined since the final fortnight of Heineken Cup action in January.

Irish captain, Rory Best, Stephen Ferris and Andrew Trimble will be handed an overdue week out of the firing line. Tom Court is not afforded the same luxury despite his demolition in London.

Ulster have to get used to life without Pedrie Wannenburg after it was announced that the Springbok would make way upon the return of Roger Wilson.

Wannenburg is ruled out through illness this week, but should be available next week. The other South African about to bid farewell is Stefan Terblanche, he starts on the wing.

Ian Humphreys returns to fly-half meaning Paul Marshall is relegated to the bench so as Ruan Pienaar can revert to his favoured position at scrum half.

Treviso: B Williams; T Iannone, A Sgarbi, G Garcia, L Nitoglia; K Burton, E Gori: R Barbieri, A Zanni, M Vosawai; C Van Zyl, A Pavanello (capt); L Cittadini, E Ceccacto, M Rizzo.

Replacements: F Sbaraglini, M Mucoignat, IF Rouyet, V Bernabo, F Minto, G Padro, F Semanzato, A Di Bernardo.

Ulster: A D’Arcy; C Gilroy, D Cave, P Wallace, S Terblanche; I Humphreys, R Pienaar: T Court, A Kyriacou, J Afoa, J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, C Henry, W Faloon, R Diack;

Replacements: N Brady, P McAllister, A Macklin, L Stevenson, N McComb, P Marshall, I Whitten, N Spence

Connacht v Munster

When: Saturday 7.45

Where to watch: TG4

The Story so far: Munster’s 17-21 to Aironi last time out put a halt to their gathering momentum, a six game winning run.

WIth Leinster playing the Ospreys tonight, by the time Munster kick off; Tony McGahan will find himself sitting either third or 15 points behind Leinster.

However, the latter scenario is not likely to cause them to lose much sleep. Second place and a home semi-final will be good enough for the defending champions.

Connacht were buoyed this week by the commitment of Kyle Tonetti, Paul O’Donohoe, Dave Moore and Dave Gannon to new contracts.

After a long stretch without a win, the westerners are currently unbeaten in their last three home games.

Team news: Ronan O’Gara will be among the rested internationals despite failing to start a game for Ireland this spring. Tomas O’Leary will begin his lap of honour for the province ahead of his summer move to London Irish. Conor Murray and Paul O’Connell continue their race to be fit for Ulster’s visit to Limerick in two weeks’ time.

Eric Elwood is able to welcome back Michael McCarthy in his second row and also Bret Wilkinson, both were on Ireland duty.

Connacht: G Duffy (capt); K Tonetti, E Griffin, H Fa’afili, T O’Halloran; M Nikora, F Murphy: B Wilkinson, E Reynecke, R Loughney, M Swift, M McCarthy; M Kearney, R Ofisa, J Muldoon.

Replacements: A Flavin, F Bealham, R Ah You, E McKeon, E Grace, P O’Donohoe, M Jarvis, D McSharry.

Munster: F Jones; D Hurley, J Murphy, L Mafi, S Zebo; I Keatley, T O’Leary; W du Preez, D Varley, BJ Botha; I Nagle, M O’Driscoll (capt); Dave O’Callaghan, D Wallace, J Coughlan.

Replacements: M Sherry, M Horan, S Archer, B Holland, T O’Donnell, D Williams, S Deasy, L O’Dea.

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