The teams for Saturday's Guinness PRO14 Derbies have now been named and are listed below alongside Team Headlines, Match Official appointments and Live TV Broadcast information.
TEAM NEWS HEADLINES
Despite a number of injuries, Benetton name a strong-looking team which includes Monty Ioane, Ignacio Brex and Tommaso Allan
Italian internationals Sebastian Negri, Alberto Sgarbi and Paolo Garbisi will provide an impact from the bench
Zebre name the same starting XV that was due to face Benetton in the postponed Round 9 fixture
Italian international Johan Meyer recovers from a shoulder injury to take his place on the bench
Edinburgh are boosted by the return of Scottish internationals Darcy Graham, Henry Pyrgos and Jamie Ritchie, the latter part of a formidable back row including Bill Mata and Hamish Watson
Pierre Schoeman and WP Nell also return to bolster the home team's front row ranks
Brandon Thomson makes his first start of the season for Glagsow Warriors at out-half with Scotland scrum-half Ali Price as his partner in the half-backs
On the bench Ross Thomson is poised for his professional debut and would become the 319th player to represent the club
Conference A leaders name nine internationals in their starting XV as they seek to to retain their undefeated start to the season
Academy back row, David McCann, makes his first senior start for the northern province
Ben Healy has recovered from a shoulder injury suffered against Harlequins to start at No 10 for Munster
Ireland looshead, Dave Kilcoyne, makes his first appearance in a match-day squad for Munster since August
World Sevens Player of the Year nominee Ben O'Donnell can make his Connacht debut from the bench
Quinn Roux Captains Connacht from the second row
Max O'Reilly and Andrew Smith make their debuts for Leinster in the starting XV
Michael Bent makes his 150th appearance for Leinster
Saturday, January 2
Benetton Rugby v Zebre Rugby Club – KO 13:00 UK / 14:00 ITA
Stadio Monigo, Treviso
Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR, 10th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Marius Mitrea, Manuel Bottino (both FIR)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (FIR)
Live on Premier Sports 2, eir Sport 1, DAZN, Super Sport, ESPN+ (USA) pro14.tv.
Benetton Rugby: Jayden Hayward, Luca Sperandio, Ignacio Brex, Tommaso Benvenuti, Monty Ioane, Tommaso Allan (CAPT), Callum Braley, Ivan Nemer, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Simone Ferrari, Marco Lazzaroni, Niccolò Cannone, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani, Marco Barbini.
Replacements: Thomas Gallo, Cherif Traore, Filippo Alongi, Riccardo Favretto, Sebastian Negri, Alberto Sgarbi, Luca Petrozzi, Paolo Garbisi.
Zebre Rugby Club: Junior Laloifi, Pierre Bruno, Federico Mori, Tommaso Boni, Mattia Bellini, Carlo Canna, Nicolò Casilio, Danilo Fischetti, Luca Bigi, Giosuè Zilocchi, David Sisi, Leonard Krumov, Jimmy Tuivaiti, Maxime Mbandà, Renato Giammarioli.
Replacements: Marco Manfredi, Daniele Rimpelli, Eduardo Bello, Mick Kearney, Johan Meyer, Joshua Renton, Antonio Rizzi, Michelangelo Biondelli.
Edinburgh Rugby v Glasgow Warriors – KO 15:00
BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU, 12th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Ben Blain, Hollie Davidson (both SRU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Live on Premier Sports 1, eir Sport 2, Super Sport, ESPN+ (USA) pro14.tv.
Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Henry Pyrgos (CO-CAPT), Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally (CO-CAPT), WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Jamie Hodgson, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata.
Replacements: Mike Willemse, Rory Sutherland, Simon Berghan, Andries Ferreira, Magnus Bradbury, Nic Groom, Nathan Chamberlain, James Johnstone.
Glasgow Warriors: Huw Jones, Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Ratu Tagive, Brandon Thomson, Ali Price, Aki Seiuli, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson (CAPT), Tom Gordon, Matt Fagerson
Replacements: Johnny Mathews, George Thornton, Enrique Pieretto, Lewis Bean, TJ Ioane, Jamie Dobbie, Ross Thompson, Glenn Bryce.
Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach, Richard Cockerill, said: “We enjoyed the extra time with our families in the absence of the postponed game against Glasgow [on the 27th] and got back to work on Monday to set about our plans for what is always an important fixture for Scottish rugby, the players and our supporters.
“We all know the saying that ‘form goes out of the window’ on derby days, so we’ve been accurate and diligent in a big week’s preparation to give us the right platform for the kind of performance we’ll need to beat Glasgow tomorrow.
“These are huge games for us and our fans who unfortunately can’t be with us at BT Murrayfield tomorrow, so we’ll be going out there giving it everything to kick start the New Year for us and them in the right way.”
Speaking about his selection, Head Coach Danny Wilson told glasgowwarriors.org: “Derbies like these are the games you want to be involved in, and after a layoff after COVID the boys are motivated and looking forward to getting back onto the pitch.
“We have trained well this week and are looking forward to the challenge of a strong Edinburgh side away from home.”
Ulster v Munster – KO 17:15
Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU, 47th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace, Rob O'Sullivan (both IRFU)
TMO: Joy Neville (IRFU)
Live on Premier Sports 2, eir Sport 1, Super Sport, ESPN+ (USA) pro14.tv.
Deferred: 20:00 TG4
Ulster: Jacob Stockdale, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney; Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Kieran Treadwell, Sam Carter (CAPT), Matty Rea, David McCann, Nick Timoney.
Replacements: Adam McBurney, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Marcell Coetzee, Nathan Doak, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.
Munster: Shane Daly; Calvin Nash, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; Liam O’Connor, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland (c); Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Jack O’Sullivan.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Dave Kilcoyne, Roman Salanoa, Thomas Ahern, Tommy O’Donnell, Nick McCarthy, Jack Crowley, Darren Sweetnam.
Leinster v Connacht – KO 19:35
RDS Arena, Dublin
Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU, 4th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, Eoghan Cross (both IRFU)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)
Live on Premier Sports 2, eir Sport 1, Super Sport, ESPN+ (USA) pro14.tv.
Deferred: 22:00 TG4
Leinster: Max O’Reilly, Andrew Smith, Jimmy O'Brien, Rory O'Loughlin, Dave Kearney, Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath (CAPT), Peter Dooley, James Tracy, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Devin Toner, Ryan Baird, Scott Penny, Dan Leavy.
Replacements: Seán Cronin, Ed Byrne, Tom Clarkson, Josh Murphy, Jack Conan, Hugh O’Sullivan, Liam Turner, Will Connors.
Connacht: John Porch, Peter Sullivan, Sammy Arnold, Tom Daly, Alex Wootton, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux (CAPT), Eoghan Masterson, Conor Oliver, Sean Masterson.
Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Matthew Burke, Conor Kenny, Ultan Dillane, Cian Prendergast, Kieran Marmion, Diarmuid Kilgallen, Ben O’Donnell.
Commenting on his selected team, Head Coach Andy Friend says: “While we have had to deal with a few cases in the squad this week, we have still been able to name a strong team thanks to the depth we have been building these past few months. It’s also really pleasing to be able to include Ben O’Donnell in our 23 for the first time.
"Even though there’s a lot of frustration about our last few results, the overall mood in the squad is good. We can’t wait to head to Dublin and test ourselves against what’s clearly a very strong Leinster side.”