Saturday's Rabo Pro12 preview: Connacht face Munster while Zebre entertain Edinburgh
Munster will be hoping to arrest their recent slump in form when they travel to Connacht, while Zebre take on Edinburgh.
Last Updated: 18/04/14 1:47pm
A much improved performance from last weekend's defeat against Glasgow Warriors is required if Munster are to achieve a crucial result, with the province needing a victory to keep their chances of knock-out qualification alive.
Head coach Rob Penney has rung the changes for Saturday's showdown with four changes to the pack.
Paul O'Connell returns this week joining Donncha O'Callaghan in the second-row, while Dave Kilcoyne and Damien Varley start in the front-row with John Ryan making the positional switch to tight-head.
Paddy Butler takes the place of James Coughlan in the back-row as Varley takes over the captaincy duties this week.
Duncan Williams teams up with Ian Keatley at half-back, while Denis Hurley, Johne Murphy and Andrew Conway all join James Downey and Gerhard van den Heever in the backline.
Connacht have slipped to back-to-back defeats in the PRO12, both on the road, to Scarlets and to Ulster although they have suffered just one defeat at the Sportsground in any tournament since mid-December.
Pat Lam has made seven personnel and two positional changes.
Willie Faloon is named at openside flanker after recovering from a hamstring injury picked up late last week. This is the first game in seven months for the 27-year-old who joins Eoin McKeon and captain John Muldoon in the back-row.
Galway-born forwards Ronan Loughney and Andrew Browne are promoted from the bench and represent the only other changes to the pack.
Wingers Matt Healy and Danie Poolman return to the starting line-up in place of Fionn Carr and Tiernan O'Halloran, who has been ruled out with a quad tear sustained in training mid-week.
Miah Nikora is handed the reins at fly-half and completes an all-Irish qualified starting team.
"After a false start last week for Willie (Faloon), it's great to have him back this week at the Sportsground. Seven is such a specialised position, and one which we've had to patch up this season with both Willie and Jake (Heenan) out long-term," said Lam.
Scots in Parma
In the day's early clash, Edinburgh welcome back prolific winger Tim Visser to their starting line-up with Zebre in Parma.
The Scotland internationalist announced his return - and 100th appearance for the club - with a five-minute cameo against Cardiff Blues last weekend. Saturday will be his first start since breaking his leg in October.
Unfortunately for head coach Alan Solomons, as one player comes in, another two are ruled out, with front-line locks Grant Gilchrist (ankle) and Izak van der Westhuizen (head knock) unavailable through injury.
"Tim Visser and Matt Scott have played very little for us and that's been our loss," said Solomons.
"Tim is a very good finisher and it's excellent to have him in the side, though we shouldn't expect too much from him as this is really his first proper outing.
"I think, if you take his southern hemisphere season and this season together, he has played in excess of 45 games so the bench is the appropriate place for him this time out."
Meanwhile, second-row Quintin Geldenhuys skippers Zebre as they look to make up ground on Treviso in search of an all-important place in next season's inaugural Rugby Champions Cup.
He is partnered by George Biagi, with powerful Fijian Samuela Vunisa - who dotted down last week against the Scarlets and against fellow Scots Glasgow Warriors this season - rounding off the forwards at number eight.
Experienced fly-half Luciano Orquera gets the nod in the number ten jersey, pairing up again with Kiwi Brendon Leonard; the lynchpin of the side.
Points machine Gonzalo Garcia lines up at inside centre, with the exciting Leonardo Sarto and Giovanbattista Venditti on the wings.