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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Michael Scully

Munster primed for tough Benetton test in crucial URC trip

It isn't exactly Munster's fringe men going into battle in Parma - but a new-look Reds side is being backed to inflict only a second home loss on Benetton of the season (2.30pm).

Skipper Peter O'Mahony heads a group of the province's stars participating in Ireland's Six Nations build-up, but Graham Rowntree is still well stocked as the fight to make the top eight continues - Munster are in seventh, a point and a place behind Benetton.

Joey Carbery's surprise absence from Andy Farrell's squad sees him earn his 50th Munster appearance today, while Ben Healy - who trained with Scotland for the first time early in the week ahead of the championship - will also hit the half century if he comes off the bench.

Rowntree can call on a host of experienced players, with Niall Scannell leading the group, and Fineen Wycherley makes a timely return and goes straight into the second row.

“We’ve got to prepare really well and one, nullify their threats but also expose a few bits that we’re seeing in them from our analysis," said Munster's forwards coach Andi Kyriacou.

"We know what a threat they are, at home especially.

“So we’re preparing for this game really hard and we’ve got to perform, it’s as simple as that. That’s what we’re training and going out to do.

"Our performances have mirrored the amount of work we've been putting in away from matchday in training.

"We're seeing improvement week on week around a lot of aspects of our game, and we don't, at any point, envisage us dropping away.

"It's the standards we're setting ourselves week to week and day to day, and it doesn't matter what players are available.

"They live by those standards and that's what we're all driving."

Kyriacou added: "If we perform, we should put ourselves in a good position to win the game, and that's what we focus on.

"It's important, absolutely, but the way we started the season, every game has become really important as we move into the back end of the season. We're preparing really, really hard for the challenge."

Benetton – R Smith; I Mendy, M Zanon, F Drago, M Bellini; J Umaga, D Duvenage (capt); N Tetaz, S Maile, T Pasquali; M Lazzaroni, R Favretto; G Pettinelli, A Izekor, H Stowers. Reps: B Bernasconi, T Gallo, F Alongi, N Piantella, C Wegner, A Steyn, M Albanese, M Watson.

Munster – S Daly; C Nash, A Frisch, M Fekitoa, L Coombes; J Carbery, P Patterson; J Wycherley, N Scannell (capt), R Salanoa; J Kleyn, F Wycherley; J O’Sullivan, J Hodnett, A Kendellen. Reps: D Barron, M Donnelly, S Archer, C Hurley, R Quinn, N Cronin, B Healy, R Scannell.


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