Zebre v Munster
5pm Irish time, live on RTÉ 2, Premier Sports
Jake Flannery gets his opportunity to wear the Munster 10 jersey for the first time in his fifth appearance for the province, three of which will be against Zebre. The 22-year-old, a Grand Slam winner with the Ireland Under-20 team in 2019, is a talented footballer, who can play centre and fullback too. He’s an excellent broken field runner.
Munster head coach Johann van Graan has made 11 changes to the side that swatted Wasps aside for the trip to Italy. Calvin Nash, sidelined since September, has recovered from the ankle injury. Skibbereen’s Liam Coombes may be more accustomed to the role of wing or fullback but, as he has shown in the past, possesses the ability to play right across the three-quarter line.
The four survivors from last weekend’s starting team are all in the pack: prop Jeremy Loughman, hooker Diarmuid Barron, secondrow Jean Kleyn and flanker and captain Jack O’Donoghue; the Waterford man was unlucky not to make the Ireland squad based on current form.
There is a youthful look to the team and also the bench, which houses several outstanding prospects. Parma, under new management so to speak following the departure of Michael Bradley, aren’t too encumbered by defections due to international call-ups given that the majority of the Italian squad is drawn from Treviso.
There is plenty to enthuse about the Munster line-up and hopefully they will be fearless in their ambition to enable them to return from Italy with the points.
Zebre Parma: J Laloifi; P Bruno, E Cronjé, E Lucchin, J Trulla; T O’Malley, M Violi; P Buonfiglio, O Fabiani, E Bello; D Sisi (capt) A Zambonin; L Mitchell, I Bianchi, R Giammarioli. Replacements: M Ceciliani, A Lovotti, G Zilocchi, L Krumov, P Junior Leavasa, A Fusco, A Rizzi, G Bisegni.
Munster: M Gallagher; C Nash, L Coombes, D Goggin, S Daly; J Flannery, N Cronin; J Loughman, D Barron, K Knox; J Kleyn, F Wycherley; J O’Donoghue (capt), J Hodnett, J O’Sullivan. Replacements: S Buckley, J Wycherley, R Salanoa, T Ahern, A Kendellen, P Patterson, J Crowley, C Farrell.
Referee: C Evans (Wales)