The PRO14 returns this weekend and kicks off on Friday with two games seeing Glasgow Warriors host Zebre at Scotstoun while Munster face off with the Southern Kings at Irish Independent Park.
Glasgow Warriors vs Zebre
Leone Nakarawa will make his first appearance at Scotstoun since re-joining Glasgow Warriors last month, as Dave Rennie’s men prepare for the visit of Zebre.
A matchday squad containing 15 internationals will run out under the Friday night lights for the club’s first PRO14 outing in over a month, including the return of five players from Scotland duty in the first fallow week of the 2020 Six Nations.
Oli Kebble will make his first appearance at tighthead in a Glasgow jersey, with the South African joining George Turner and Aki Seiuli in the front-row.
Having scored in his last home outing for the club against Zebre in 2016, Nakarawa is paired alongside the recently re-signed Rob Harley in the second-row.
Ryan Wilson captains the team from the blindside flank, as Tom Gordon and Matt Fagerson return from Scotland camp and injury respectively to complete the pack.
Behind the scrum there’s a familiar combination at half-back, with Pete Horne lining up at fly-half outside younger brother George.
Nick Grigg celebrates his own re-signing by starting in the number 13 jersey, partnering Stafford McDowall in midfield for the first time since October’s trip to the Dragons.
Two of the club’s three all-time leading try-scorers start on the wings, as Tommy Seymour and DTH van der Merwe line up alongside full-back Glenn Bryce in the back-three.
Fijian international hooker Mesu Dolokoto could make his club debut from the bench, after being selected in a Glasgow matchday 23 for the first time.
Jamie Dobie is also in line for a first appearance in three months, having last featured in November’s 50-0 triumph over the Southern Kings at Scotstoun.
Elsewhere, Alex Allan and Adam Nicol join Dolokoto in providing front-row cover, the former making his first home appearance since joining the ranks of the club’s centurions.
Tim Swinson, Chris Fusaro and Ruaridh Jackson bring a wealth of experience to the replacements, whilst Kyle Steyn completes the club’s contingent of returning internationals by taking the number 23 shirt.
Meanwhile, Zebre are boosted by the return from injury of Maxime Mbandà, who joins Apisai Tauyavuca and Renato Giammarioli in the back-row.
Tommaso Boni captains the side from inside centre and is joined in midfield by Jamie Elliot, with Pierre Bruno, Paula Balekana and Junior Laloifi starting in the back three while Joshua Renton and Michelangelo Biondelli complete the backline as the Italian side’s half-backs.
There is an all-Irish second-row combination as Ian Nagle and Mick Kearney link up while Daniele Rimepelli, Eduardo Bello and Massimo Ceciliani are the front-row.
Luca Bigi, Mattia Bellini, Carlo Canna, Danilo Fischetti, Giovanni Licata, Andrea Lovotti, Guglielmo Palazzani and Giosuè Zilocchi are all away on international duty.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Glenn Bryce, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Pete Horne, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Tom Gordon, 6 Ryan Wilson (c), 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Rob Harley, 3 Oli Kebble, 2 George Turner, 1 Aki Seiuli Replacements: 16 Mesu Dolokoto, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Adam Nicol, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Kyle Steyn
Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Paula Balekana, 13 Jamie Elliott, 12 Tommaso Boni (c), 11 Pierre Bruno, 10 Michelangelo Biondelli, 9 Joshua Renton, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Apisai Tauyavuca, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Ian Nagle, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Massimo Ceciliani, 1 Daniele Rimepelli Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Riccardo Burgnara, 18 Alexandru Tarus, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 George Biagi, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Enrico Lucchin, 23 Jimmy Tuivaiti
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium Kick-off: 19:35 GMT Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland) Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Chris Busby (Ireland) Television match official: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
Munster Academy back-row John Hodnett will make his PRO14 debut tomorrow.
Really exciting prospect who was outstanding for the Ireland U-20s in their Grand Slam winning campaign last year.
— Cian Tracey (@CianTracey1) February 13, 2020
Munster vs Southern Kings
Munster head coach Johann van Graan hands a first start to first year Munster Rugby Academy man John Hodnett as the back-row forward makes his PRO14 debut in this clash with the Kings.
Rosscarbery man Hodnett is a product of Clonakilty RFC and was a Grand Slam-winner with the Ireland U20s last season.
Veteran lock Billy Holland captains the side on his 226th Munster appearance.
Full-back Mike Haley, Calvin Nash and Shane Daly make up the back three while Dan Goggin and Chris Farrell are named as the centre partnership with Neil Cronin and JJ Hanrahan in the half-backs.
It’s an all-international front-row with James Cronin, Niall Scannell and John Ryan named in the starting XV.
Fineen Wycherley and Holland start in the second-row with Jack O’Donoghue, Hodnett and Arno Botha completing the side.
Two Academy players are among the replacements, prop Keynan Knox and fly-half Ben Healy.
Meanwhile, Southern Kings head coach Rob Kempson has rung the changes to his starting line-up after suffering a 45-0 defeat in their previous match, against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein a fortnight ago.
In the backline, Demetri Catrakils and Stefan Ungerer come into the run-on side as the half-back duo in place of Bader Pretorius and Theo Maree respectively.
Erich Cronje shifts from the left wing to inside centre, where he replaces JT Jackson, with Eddie Ludick set to make his debut in the number 11 jersey, while Chris Hollis starts on the right wing.
In the forwards, number eight Ruaan Lerm is set to play in his 50th match for the Kings. Lerm takes over from Elright Louw at the base of the scrum and is joined in the back-row by Bobby de Wee and Lusanda Badiyana.
The final change is in the front-row where veteran loosehead prop Schalk Ferreira replaces Cameron Dawson, while JC Astle resumes his duties as captain from the second-row.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Dan Goggin, 11 Shane Daly, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Neil Cronin, 8 Arno Botha, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Billy Holland (c), 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Gavin Coombes, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Rory Scannell
Southern Kings: 15 Andell Loubser, 14 Chris Hollis, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Erich Cronje, 11 Eddie Ludick, 10 Demetri Catrakils, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Bobby de Wee, 6 Lusanda Badiyana, 5 JC Astle (c), 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Schalk Ferreira Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Ignatius Prinsloo, 19 Aston Fortuin, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 221 Luyolo Dapula, 22 Josh Allderman, 23 Courtney Winnaar
Venue: Irish Independent Park Kick-off: 19:35 GMT Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia) Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Johnny Erskine (Ireland) Television match official: Charles Samson (Scotland)