Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh side travel to Galway looking to keep their strong run going and it’s a full strength team that travels. Can they replicate the dogged win in Ulster from a few weeks back? Having played down talk of competitiveness at season’s end when he took over, Cockers is now having to face the fact that the transformation of the Edinburgh team has perhaps been quicker than expected. No one’s saying they are title contenders but they are very much in the race for playoff spots and Champions Cup rugby next season.
Connacht are without Bundee Aki but Edinburgh have most of their fringe internationals and a few front liners back too, including Grant Gilchrist and Simon Berghan. Unsurprisingly Hamish Watson and Stuart McInally are rested but WP Nel features on the bench, and there’s a welcome return for Darryl Marfo.
Cornell du Preez could make his 100th Edinburgh appearance should he be used as a replacement.
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney (Capt), Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler, Sean O’Brien.
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Coulson, Dominic Robertson McCoy, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, James Mitchell, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leader.
Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn, Dougie Fife, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Nathan Fowles; Darryl Marfo, Neil Cochrane, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist (capt), Magnus Bradbury, John Hardie, Bill Mata.
Replacements: 16. Cameron Fenton, 17. Jordan Lay, 18. WP Nel, 19. Lewis Carmichael, 20. Cornell du Preez, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22. Duncan Weir, 23. Phil Burleigh.
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
In the first double Van Der Merwe team announcement post on the site in living memory – and a “triple Van Der” – Glasgow welcome back another cult favourite in the shape of DTHVDM who returns from Newcastle via Scarlets to more than likely a hero’s welcome. The grass isn’t always greener – although the other missing member of the dream team, Uncle BigNaks, is probably making up for it by sleeping on a big pile of money in France and hasn’t shown any sign of a return to Glasgow.
Several of Glasgow’s Gold Coast bound 7s contingent will play including Ruaridh Jackson and Lee Jones while George Horne is on the bench.
There’s a welcome return for the grunt of Callum Gibbins who also captains the side.
Glasgow: Ruaridh Jackson, Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, DTH Van Der Merwe, Adam Hastings, Henry Pyrgos, Oli Kebble, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings, Rob Harley, Callum Gibbins (capt) Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Jamie Bhatti, Siua Halanukonuka, Kiran McDonald, Chris Fusaro, George Horne, Peter Horne, Lelia Masaga.
Not available due to injury: Adam Ashe (ankle), Fraser Brown (ankle), Ryan Grant (groin), Pat MacArthur (shoulder), D’arcy Rae (neck), Leo Sarto (shoulder), Brandon Thomson (knee) and Lewis Wynne (hip).
Zebre: Edoardo Padovani, Gabriele Di Giulio, Serafin Bordoli, Faialaga Afamasaga, Giovanbattista Venditti, Carlo Canna, Guglielmo Palazzani (capt); Cruze Ah-Nau, Oliviero Fabiani, Eduardo Bello, David Sisi, Leonard Krumov, Derick Minnie, Johan Meyer, James Tucker
Replacements: Tommaso D’Apice, Andrea De Marchi, Roberto Tenga, Valerio Bernabò, Jacopo Sarto, Riccardo Raffaele, Maicol Azzolini, Rory Parata
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)
At Scotstoun, Friday 7.35, not on TV