Early yesterday morning, a 36-man Connacht squad set off for a five day training camp in France that includes the first of the province’s pre-season games.

Friday night will see Connacht take on Top 14 heavyweights Clermont Auvergne in Issoire as part of the 2014 Challenge Auvergne de Rugby.

The starting XV will be announced on Thursday from the following traveling squad.

Backs

Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Shane Layden, Fionn Carr, Matt Healy, Niyi Adeolokun, Danie Poolman, Shane O’Leary, Dave McSharry, Miah Nikora, Craig Ronaldson, Ian Porter, Kieran Marmion, Caolin Blade,  Conor Finn, Jack Carty

Forwards

Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham, Sean Henry, Dave Heffernan, Shane Delahunt, Nathan White, JP Cooney, Rodney Ah You, Aly Muldowney, Quinn Roux, Mick Kearney, Andrew Browne, Michael Swift, Eoghan Masterson, Danny Qualter, Jake Heenan, Willie Faloon, John Muldoon, George Naoupu, Eoin McKeon

Players in italics have been reintroduced to training following surgeries but will be unavailable to play in Friday’s clash with Clermont. Irish international Kieran Marmion is resting as part of the player welfare programme following the summer tour to Argentina in June.

Sub Academy forward Shane Delahunt has been included as cover for recovering hookers Jason Harris-Wright and Sean Henry as well as the incoming Tom McCartney.  The 20-year-old from Birr, Co. Offaly was capped for Ireland U20’s against Scotland in January of this year. Delahunt is joined by Academy players Caolin Blade and Eoghan Masterson who also provide cover for Pat Lam’s squad.

Players Robbie Henshaw, Ronan Loughney, Jason Harris-Wright and Mata Fifita will all continue with their rehab programmes in Galway this week under the watchful eye of Senior Fitness Coach Jim Molony.

Incoming players Mils Muliaina, Bundee Aki, Tom McCartney and John Cooney will complete the 41-man squad in the coming weeks.

Speaking about the week ahead and the game against Clermont Auvergne, Head Coach Pat Lam said:

“This is a very important phase in our pre-season preparations. After five weeks of training together in Galway, the squad will be able to get out to France with no interruptions.  That’s the beauty of these trips. We can get away as a large squad and take the opportunity to test out our new systems and structures on the pitch. The week is also useful for building on relationships, especially with new guys coming in this season.

“As a player and coach, these trips can be hugely beneficial as long as the proper structures have been put in place. The management team have spent a lot of time preparing for this week and ensuring we get the most out of it.

“On Friday, we’re playing Clermont in what will be their last hit out before their opening Top 14 game against Grenoble the following week. In that regard, we expect a tough encounter but this fixture is less about the result, and more about how we perform. We want to give everyone some game time and try out different combinations ahead of the season kick-off and our game against Wasps in two weeks’ time.

 “I’m very pleased with the preparation that has been done to date and looking forward to a good week from everyone in France.”

Connacht Pre-Season Fixtures:

Friday August 8th                              Clermont Auverne v Connacht Rugby     Issoire, 8pm local time

Saturday August 23rd                      Wasps v Connacht Rugby                             High Wycombe, 2:30pm

Connacht Rugby kick off the official season with a home game against Newport Gwent Dragons on the weekend of September 5/6/7. Fixture dates and kick off times for the PRO12 are to be confirmed in the coming days.

To secure your place at the Sportsground for all 14 home games in the 2014/15 season, make sure to get your Season Ticket. Click here for more details on current discounts and special offers.

 

 

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