There are four PRO14 matches scheduled on Saturday with Ospreys’ Welsh derby against the Dragons at Liberty Stadium the standout fixture.
Ospreys v Dragons
Ospreys have named Wales internationals Aled Davies, Justin Tipuric, Adam Beard and Nicky Smith in their starting line-up to face Dragons.
Davies starts alongside Luke Price at half-back while Owen Watkin and Cory Allen are the centre pairing for the game.
One of Wales’ Six Nations heroes, Tipuric, meanwhile starts in a back-row alongside Olly Cracknell and James King with Beard joining Bradley Davies in the locks.
The front-row consists of Tom Botha, Scott Baldwin and Smith.
Meanwhile, talented young lock Max Williams is handed his first PRO14 start of the season for the Dragons.
Head coach Ceri Jones also recalls a number of his Wales stars, following their Grand Slam exploits, as Dragons make a total of eight changes for the clash in Swansea.
Number eight Ross Moriarty and flanker Aaron Wainwright return in the back-row alongside Taine Basham.
Prop Leon Brown makes a start and packs down alongside captain Richard Hibbard, who is declared fit after missing the home defeat to Ulster. Elliot Dee misses out following a knock to the ribs from the Grand Slam win against Ireland.
Fly-half Jason Tovey starts the game just three points shy of hitting 1,000 for the region and will team up at half-back with Rhodri Williams.
Centre Tyler Morgan is also recalled alongside wing Jared Rosser.
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Luke Price, 9 Aled Davies, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Luke Morgan
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jarryd Sage, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Max Williams, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Richard Hibbard (c), 1 Brok Harris Replacements: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Josh Reynolds, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Joe Davies, 20 Lennon Greggains, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Adam Warren
Venue: Liberty Stadium Kick-off: 15:00 GMT Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales) Assistant referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Craig Evans (Wales) Television match official: Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Ulster v Southern Kings
There are five personnel changes to the Ulster team that managed a bonus-point win away to Dragons earlier this month. Four of the new faces are up front, with loosehead prop Andy Warwick, lock Ian Nagle and back-rows Matty Rea and Marcell Coetzee introduced to the starting pack.
Coetzee will make a welcome return from injury, having not featured since January’s decisive Champions Cup defeat of Leicester at Welford Road.
Rob Herring and Marty Moore will join Warwick in the front-row, while captain Alan O’Connor partners Nagle in the second-row. Nick Timoney, so impressive at Rodney Parade in his last outing, is named as the other loose forward.
The only alteration to the backline is at scrum-half, with Dave Shanahan coming in to partner Billy Burns at half-back. Stuart McCloskey and Darren Cave continue in midfield, and pacy wingers Rob Lyttle and Rob Baloucoune are again selected in the back three alongside Louis Ludik.
John Andrew, Wiehahn Herbst and Tom O’Toole will provide front-row cover on the bench, while Kieran Treadwell and Clive Ross are the other forward options. John Cooney, Michael Lowry and Angus Kernohan, who helped Ireland U20s to a Six Nations Grand Slam success last weekend, are the backline replacements.
For the Southern Kings, head coach Deon Davids has opted for consistency after only making a few changes to the team that ran out against Cardiff Blues earlier in this month.
Number eight Ruaan Lerm, who missed out on the action against Cardiff Blues due to concussion, is back in the starting line-up as he takes the place of Andisa Ntsila, who will provide cover from the bench this week.
The only other change is at scrum-half where Stefan Ungerer returns to the starting XV, replacing the injured Sarel Pretorius, who has been left behind in South Africa.
The only new addition to the matchday 23 is the return of Harlon Klaasen to the team. The centre will provide midfield cover from the bench, in a rotational switch with Berton Klaasen, who has been rested this week.
Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Rob Baloucoune, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Dave Shanahan, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Matty Rea, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Alan O’Connor (c), 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andy Warwick Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Clive Ross, 21 John Cooney, 22 Michael Lowry, 23 Angus Kernohan
Southern Kings: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Meli Rokoua, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Henry Brown, 5 JC Astle (c), 4 Andries van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Alulutho Tshakweni Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Lumpumlo Mguca, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Harlon Klaasen
Venue: Kingspan Stadium Kick-off: 17:30 GMT Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland) Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Graeme Ormiston (Scotland) Television match official: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
Glasgow Warriors v Cheetahs
Callum Gibbins will captain Glasgow Warriors against the Cheetahs at Scotstoun Stadium.
Gibbins picked up an injury in Glasgow’s Champions Cup victory over Cardiff Blues in January and returns to the starting line-up as the Warriors gear up for the business end of the season.
Matt Fagerson and Rob Harley join their captain in the back-row and pack down behind an unchanged lock pairing of Tim Swinson and Scott Cummings.
Fraser Brown starts having come off the bench for Scotland in their thrilling 38-38 draw in the Calcutta Cup last weekend. Oli Kebble and Zander Fagerson are named either side of him.
Pete Horne starts at fly-half with Nick Frisby his half-back partner. In midfield, Stafford McDowall and Kyle Steyn combine as they did in Glasgow’s victory over Zebre at the start of the month.
Club centurions Ruaridh Jackson and Niko Matawalu are joined by Rory Hughes in the back-three.
Adam Hastings is named on the bench, the 22-year-old also came on as a replacement at Twickenham on Super Saturday.
Meanwhile, Cheetahs head coach Franco Smith has named Charles Marais at loosehead prop alongside hooker Marnus van der Merwe and tighthead Aranos Coetzee for the away clash.
Sintu Manjezi will be starting at lock alongside Walt Steenkamp while Daniel Maartens, Abongile Nonkontwana and Henco Venter form the back-row.
Malcolm Jaer returns from injury and will be starting at full-back.
Glasgow: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Niko Matawalu, 13 Kyle Steyn, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Pete Horne, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Callum Gibbins (c), 6 Rob Harley, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Oli Kebble Replacements: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Siua Halanukonuka, 19 Bruce Flockhart, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Adam Hastings, 22 Paddy Kelly, 23 Robbie Nairn
Cheetahs: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 William Small-Smith 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Charles Marais Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Reinach Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Justin Basson, 20 JP du Preez, 21 Gerhard Olivier, 22 Shaun Venter, 23 Louis Fouche
Venue: Scotstoun Kick-off: 19:45 GMT Referee: George Clancy (Ireland) Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Dunx McClement (Scotland) Television match official: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
Munster v Zebre
CJ Stander captains Munster on his return from international duty with Jack O’Donoghue making his first start since recovering from a serious knee injury.
There are seven changes to the side that faced Scarlets three weeks ago.
Alex Wootton, JJ Hanrahan, Stephen Archer, Darren O’Shea, O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete and Stander all come into the starting XV.
Mike Haley starts at full-back with Darren Sweetnam and Wootton on either flank while Rory Scannell and Dan Goggin continue their centre partnership with Alby Mathewson and Hanrahan in the half-backs.
Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall and Archer pack down in the front-row, Fineen Wycherley moves into the second-row and is partnered by Darren O’Shea while it’s all change in the back-row as O’Donoghue, Cloete and Stander complete the side.
Tyler Bleyendaal is among the replacements and is in line to make his 50th appearance for the province.
Internationals Niall Scannell, John Ryan and Chris Farrell are also included in the matchday 23.
Zebre have recalled the majority of their Italian internationals that took part in the Six Nations, with the exception of Tommaso Castello, who suffered a broken leg against England at Twickenham two weeks ago.
After two months out, Andrea Lovotti and Edoardo Padovani are back in the XV and feature alongside seven other of the Azzurri, while Tommaso Boni, Renato Giammarioli and captain George Biagi are also included.
On the bench, there is a return for Mattia Bellini and Marcelo Violi, having both recovered from their respective injuries.
Finally, there is a first call-up for the Italian-Argentine prop Marco Ciccioli, who arrived in Parma last week from the Argentinian side Club Atletico de San Isidro.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 CJ Stander (c), 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Darren O’Shea 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Jeremy Loughman Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 John Ryan, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Chris Farrell
Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Gabriele Di Giulio, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 James Elliott, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Renato Giammarioli. 7 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 George Biagi (c), 4 David Sisi, 3 Roberto Tenga, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti Replacements: 16 Luhandre Luus, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Marco Ciccioli, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Apisai Tauyavuca, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Mattia Bellini
Venue: Thomond Park Kick-off: 19:45 GMT Referee: Dan Jones (Wales) Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Mark Patton (Ireland) Television match official: Colin Stanley (Ireland)
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