CJ Stander returns for Munster; Ross Byrne late withdrawal for Leinster

By Michelle McGlynn

CJ Stander is back in the Munster team for tomorrow's Pro 14 match against Zebre at Thomond Park.

The back row returns to captain the province after starting Ireland's concluding Six Nations games against France and Wales.

Fellow Irish internationals Niall Scannell, John Ryan and Chris Farrell are named on the bench.

Flanker Jack O'Donoghue will make his first start of the season, following a serious knee injury.

In all there are seven changes to the side that faced Scarlets three weeks ago.

Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan said that it's important to focus on the match at hand and not to let yourself get distracted by the matches ahead.

"It's a new rugby game, the start of a new block. We haven't been together as a team for quite a bit of time now," said van Graan.

"We are second in our conference in the Pro14, we've got to keep up to Glasgow. There are exciting times ahead."

Munster: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson; Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Fineen Wycherley, Darren O’Shea; Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, CJ Stander (C).

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Liam O’Connor, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Arno Botha, Duncan Williams, Tyler Bleyendaal, Chris Farrell.

Ulster have Marcell Coetzee back from injury for their game against the Southern Kings in Belfast.

The South African has been out of action since their Champions Cup win over Leicester at Welford Road in January.

There are five changes to the team that scored a bonus point away win to Dragons earlier this month.

The team will be hoping to continue their six-game unbeaten run as they battle for a play-off spot in Conference B.

Leinster have made a late change to their team for tonight's match against Edinburgh in Scotland.

Out half Ross Byrne has been withdrawn.

Ciaran Frawley will swap the 15 shirt for 10, while Jimmy O'Brien comes off the bench to start at full back.

Ahead of tonight's match Fergus McFadden said that there is a lot to play for.

"Edinburgh have a lot to play for in this game, we do as well," said McFadden.

"We want to continue winning so we've got momentum going into the quarter-final against Ulster next week.

"There's a lot on the line."

Connacht continue their push for a play-off spot against Benetton Treviso in Galway this evening.

Ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend says his side are expecting a huge challenge from an in-form Benetton side.

“They have been great all year,” said Friend. “I’m not surprised they’re sitting in second spot. They’re playing a physical yet attractive brand of rugby.

"They’ve got a lot of quality players, so we are preparing for a top side coming to the Sportsground.

"We are in a similar situation, they are sitting second in their conference and we are third in ours so both teams will be looking for a win.”

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