Penney tribute as Paulie demands action against Treviso

RABO DIRECT PRO12:

Penney tribute as Paulie demands action against Treviso

The Irish skipper was offered what would have been a well-deserved rest after leading his country to a thrilling Six Nations title victory in Paris last week, but insisted on joining his provincial colleagues after a gap of eight weeks.

“Paul wanted to be involved to keep building off the momentum of his successful Six Nations campaign with the Irish team,” he said.

“It shows the calibre of the player. He came to watch the team train on Tuesday and wants to contribute against Treviso and secure more game time ahead of a crucial period.”

The coach received another twin boost with the news that both Keith Earls and Damien Varley are back after injury. Varley’s return to fitness is of particular importance to Penney given that Mike Sherry has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Varley will get the captain’s armband and Penney noted: “It’s Damien’s first game since January and it’s a timely return leading into a crucial period for the team.”

Penney made 11 changes to the side beaten by Scarlets last time out after five successive wins.

Earls starts on the right wing with Felix Jones at full back, James Downey coming in to partner Casey Laulala in the centre and JJ Hanrahan at out-half.

Donnacha Ryan is the only forward to keep his place in the starting XV with the Limerickman moving from lock to flanker.

New Zealand hooker Quentin MacDonald will surely make his Munster debut off the bench, while Ian Keatley is also likely to be given a chance to reach the magical 500 point mark. In 66 appearances to date he has scored 497 points.

Penney is expecting a tough night at the office. He was quick to remind point out Treviso turned Munster over in the corresponding fixture a few months back, and those involved with Italy this season will be hurting badly after finishing bottom of the Six Nations table.

Those guys coming back in, will make the job for us.”

MUNSTER: F Jones; K Earls, C Laulala, J Downey, J Murphy; JJ Hanrahan, D Williams; J Cronin, D Varley (c), J Ryan; B Holland, P O’Connell; D Ryan, S Dougall, P Butler.

Replacements: Q MacDonald, D Kilcoyne, S Archer, D O’Callaghan, CJ Stander, G Hurley, I Keatley, S Zebo.

BENETTON TREVISO: A Esposito; C Loamanu, M Campagnaro, A Sgarbi, L Nitoglia; M Berquist, E Gori; A De Marchi, G Maistri, L Cittadini; A Pavanello (c), V Berabo; M Vosawai, M Filippucci, R Barbieri.

Replacements: L Ghiraldini, M Muccignat, I Fernandes-Rouyet, M Fuser, C Van Zyl, L McLean, T Botes, J Ambrosini.

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