Team news: Proud day for Scannell family as Niall to captain Munster

Niall will lead a team that includes his younger brother Rory and their cousin, Jack O'Sullivan.

Team news: Proud day for Scannell family as Niall to captain Munster

Niall Scannell will captain Munster for the first time as Johann van Graan makes six changes to his team to face Zebre at Stadio Giovanni Mari on Friday (7.35pm, Irish time) in the Guinness PRO14.

It will be another proud day for the Scannell family as Niall, who made his 100th Munster appearance in January, will lead a team that includes his younger brother Rory and their cousin, Jack O'Sullivan. It'll be 21-year-old O'Sullivan's second Munster start.

Also making his second Munster start will be scrum-half Craig Casey, who takes over from Neil Cronin from the team which hammered Southern Kings 68-3 last Friday. He will partner JJ Hanrahan in the half-backs.

Rory Scannell and Sammy Arnold form the centre partnership, replacing Ireland call-up Chris Farrell and bench option Dan Goggin.

The three changes in the pack see Darren O'Shea, Chris Cloete, and O'Sullivan come in for Billy Holland, Jack O’Donoghue, and man-of-the-match debutant John Hodnett.

O'Sullivan's introduction means Arno Botha switches to make his first start at blindside flanker.

Tommy O'Donnell and Darren Sweetnam return to the bench for the game as both overcome hamstring injuries. O'Donnell has been sidelined since December's loss to Leinster and Sweetnam since the province's loss to Cheetahs in October.

The Zebre second-row features former Ireland underage internationals Ian Nagle, formerly of Munster, and Mick Kearney.

Munster: Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Craig Casey; James Cronin, Niall Scannell (c), John Ryan; Fineen Wycherley, Darren O'Shea; Arno Botha, Chris Cloete, Jack O'Sullivan.

Replacements: Kevin O'Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Gavin Coombes, Tommy O'Donnell, Neil Cronin, Dan Goggin, Darren Sweetnam.

Zebre: Junior Laloifi; Paula Balekana, Jamie Elliott, Tommaso Boni (c), Pierre Bruno; Francois Brummer, Joshua Renton; Daniele Rimepelli, Massimo Ceciliani, Eduardo Bello; Mick Kearney, Ian Nagle; Maxime Mbandà, Jimmy Tuivaiti, Renato Giammarioli.

Replacements: Matteo Luccardi, Riccardo Burgnara, Matteo Nocera, Leonard Krumov, George Biagi, Nicolò Casilio, Pescetto Paolo, Enrico Lucchin.

Unbeaten Conference A leaders Leinster make eight changes for their clash with bottom-side Ospreys.

Without five of their internationals from the 36-12 win over Cheetahs, Leo Cullen keeps changes in the pack to the minimum, with James Tracy, Josh Murphy, and Scott Penny in for Ronan Kelleher, Will Connors, and Max Deegan.

Rhys Ruddock switches to the number 8 jersey for the trip to The Gnoll (7.35pm).

There are five changes to the back-line, with out-half Ciarán Frawley and centre Jimmy O'Brien the two retained.

Jamison Gibson-Park will partner Frawley in the half-backs, Conor O’Brien joins Jimmy O'Brien in the centre, and the back-three features Hugo Keenan, Cian Kelleher, and James Lowe.

There are six Leinster Rugby Academy players among the replacements: Jack Aungier, Ryan Baird, Harry Byrne, Jack Dunne, Michael Milne, and Tommy O'Brien.

Hooker Seán Cronin and Rowan Osborne complete the bench.

Leinster: Hugo Keenan; Cian Kelleher, Jimmy O’Brien, Conor O’Brien, James Lowe; Ciarán Frawley, Jamison Gibson-Park; Peter Dooley, James Tracy, Michael Bent; Ross Molony, Scott Fardy (c); Josh Murphy, Scott Penny, Rhys Ruddock.

Replacements: Seán Cronin, Michael Milne, Jack Aungier, Jack Dunne, Ryan Baird, Rowan Osborne, Harry Byrne, Tommy O’Brien.

Ospreys: Cai Evans; Hanno Dirksen, Owen Watkin, Kieran Williams, Luke Morgan; Luke Price, Aled Davies; Nicky Smith, Scott Otten, Simon Gardiner; Adam Beard, Bradley Davies; Dan Lydiate (c), Olly Cracknell, Dan Baker.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Gareth Thomas, Gheorghe Gajion, Lloyd Ashley, Sam Cross, Shaun Venter, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, James Hook.

Three of Andy Friend's four changes to his Connacht team are eenforced as they prepare to visit Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday (7.35pm).

With Dave Heffernan and Ultan Dillane unavailable due to international duty and Gavin Thornbury picking up an injury in the 29-0 win over Cardiff Blues, all four changes come in the forward pack.

Prop Denis Buckley, hooker Shane Delahunt, and second-rows Joe Maksymiw and Niall Murray are introduced, with Paddy McAllister the other to drop out.

Jarrad Butler continues as captain at number 8, while Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion continue their half-back partnership.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, John Porch; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham; Niall Murray, Joe Maksymiw; Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (c).

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Paddy McAllister, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.

Edinburgh: Damien Hoyland; Eroni Sau, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe; Simon Hickey, Nic Groom (c); Pierre Schoeman, Mike Willemse, Simon Berghan; Stan South, Lewis Carmichael; Nick Haining, Luke Crosbie, Viliame Mata.

Replacements: Cameron Fenton, Murray McCallum, Dan Winning, Jamie Hodgson, John Barclay, Charlie Shiel, Jaco van der Walt, George Taylor.

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