Rugby – Munster face in-form Treviso

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MUNSTER face Treviso this weekend in what could well prove to be a season defining match for the Red Army.

Anthony Foley’s men currently lie in seventh spot in the table (they could be eight by Thursday night, due to Glasgow’s game in hand) and this weekend they face a  Benetton Treviso who have won their last two matches.

Victories at home to Cardiff Blues and Newport Gwent Dragons in recent times does not hide the fact that the Italians have not beaten an Irish opponent since their victory over Connacht at Stadio Monigo in the Guinness PRO12 in October 2013.

Munster have lost their last two Pro12 fixtures, against Ospreys and Glasgow and have not lost three regular season games in succession since April 2013. However, Munster have won their last ten encounters with Italian opponents.

The two sides have already met three times this season (two of those in the European Champions Cup) with Munster victorious on each occasion.

Looking ahead to the game, the Munster head coach is fully aware of his side’s predicament and the potential for not qualifying for the Champions  Cup in 2016.

“We’re fully aware of that situation and we need to deal with that one game at a time. You can look at it through blocks and make predictions but we’re going to a team that we have played three times so far this season. They’ve been three very tough physical contests and there were big turning points in all three games and we were fortunate that all three fell our way, so we’re hoping that we can get our performance right, go over there and get a result.”

On the injury front, Robin Copeland sustained a concussion in the opening 40 against Glasgow Warriors on Friday night and will follow return to play protocols this week, while Francis Saili, who also sustained a concussion in the loss to Ospreys in Round 14, is in the final stages of his return to play protocols. The centre is expected to be available for selection this week.

Dave O’Callaghan (rib) will return to modified contact training this week, while Tyler Bleyendaal (quad), Duncan Casey (pec), BJ Botha (knee) and Peter O’Mahony (knee) all continue with their respective rehabilitation programmes.

Anthony Foley could not be drawn this week into comment on his future, stating “When there is something to announce, it will be announced.”

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