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Pro14

PREVIEW: Munster v Benetton

Munster have made a host of changes to the side that faced Cardiff last weekend for their trip to Italy

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Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Munster have made 11 changes to their team that defeated Cardiff last weekend as they head to Italy to face Benetton on Friday at 7pm.

Munster know that they need a win to keep the pressure on Glasgow at the top of the table and stay in the hunt for a home semi-final.

Mike Haley, Darren Sweetnam, Billy Holland and Chris Cloete are the only players to keep their places in the starting team from last week.

Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall and Stephen Archer make up the front-row as Archer is set to make his 150th Pro 14 appearance.

Fineen Wycherley partners captain Holland in the second-row, with Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete and Gavin Coombes behind in the back-row. Coombes is set for his debut.

Alby Mathewson starts at scrum-half, alongside JJ Hanrahan in the half-backs, who is set to play his 100th match for the reds.

Outside them are Dan Goggin and Sam Arnold in the centre pairing. Shane Daly is on the left-wing, another ready to make his first start, with Darren Sweetnam on the right and Hike Haley at full-back.

Their bench is largely inexperienced with academy player Alex Henry, yet another ready to make his debut for the club among them.

Speaking ahead of the game Munster head coach Johann van Graan, who signed a new contract extension during the week, has complimented the opposition and their style.

“They’ve been excellent. The conference system sets up knock-out rugby pretty well and they play knock-out rugby,” he said.

On other side Benetton have made one change to the team that secured a dramatic away draw at Leinster last weekend, with Tommaso Benvenuti coming in for Luca Morisi. Otherwise it’s as you were.

A win for Munster is crucial in the race to stay in touch with Glasgow at the top of Conference A, but Benetton are in the play-off positions in Conference B and will want to stay there, so this could be a battle worth watching.

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby star suffers pre-season ACL tear

9 months out.

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Not the news that any Ulster fans want.

Another new signing struck down by injury before the season has even started.

Gareth Milasinovich who joined the province from Worcester Warriors was struck down in the last couple of weeks with an ACL tear that will see him on the sidelines for approximately 9 months.

Ulster Rugby fans have become accustomed to similar situations over the last number of seasons with many new exciting signings being struck down very early into their Ulster careers with ‘big’ injuries’.

Jared Payne ruptured an achilles tendon very early in his Ulster career and other big-name casualties include Marcel Coetzee and Jean Dysell who also suffered ACL injuries in their opening seasons with Ulster Rugby.

We wish Gareth a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him and the other new recruits at Ulster on the field really soon.

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Pro14

Cheetahs Make Four More Signings

After announcing the arrival of Ruan Pienaar last week the Cheetahs have added a further four players to their squad for next season

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(Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Free State Cheetahs have confirmed the signings of four more players ahead of the 2019/20 PRO14 season. 

Only last week they announced the signing of veteran scrum-half Ruan Pienaar but he will be joined at the club by Rhyno Smith, Chris Massyn, Chris Smit and Wilmar Arnoldi.

Smith currently plays for the Sharks and is a utility back who was on loan with the Cheetahs last season but has now made his switch permanent with a three-year contract.

Massyn on the other hand is a loose forward most frequently used as a flanker. The 25-year-old led the University of Stellenbosch Maties to the 2019 Varsity Cup and has signed a two-year deal.

Smit also claimed victory in the 2019 Varsity Cup and was named player of the tournament before signing for Griquas. He plays as a centre usually but can also play at fly-half if needed and joins on a two-year contract.

Hooker Arnoldi is also coming in from Griquas on another two-year contract.

All four will join up with the squad after finishing the Currie Cup campaign with their respective provinces, but things are certainly looking on the up heading into the new season for the Cheetahs.

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Premiership

Worcester Coach on the Move

Worcester Warriors head coach Rory Duncan could be set to leave the club very soon according to reports

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(Photo by Ashley Crowden - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Worcester Warriors head coach Rory Duncan has been given permission to speak to other clubs according to reports in the Worcester News. 

The news outlet claim that they have been informed by the club that they do not see Duncan as a part of their future plans.

“The club has put in place a strategic plan for the future of Warriors. We do not envisage Rory Duncan being part of those plans and, therefore, we have given Rory permission to seek opportunities elsewhere,” a club spokesperson said

Duncan has impressed with stints at the Cheetahs and the Warriors, and a return to the Cheetahs looked to be on the cards until the club announced Hawies Fourie as their new coach.

However, the Southern Kings are currently looking for a new head coach and Duncan is among a four-man list of coaches being considered for the position, with Steve Jackson, Corniel van Zyl and Pieter de Villiers being the others.

Duncan has experience with the Kings having played two Currie Cup seasons with them before his retirement from playing.

Both the Warriors and the Kings open up their respective campaigns for the 2019/20 season in September and one would imagine they will want a quick resolution if he is to depart for South Africa once again.

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