Eoghan Masterson will become the latest Connacht centurion tomorrow after he was named in the starting XV to face Ulster at The Sportsground (k/o 7.35pm)
 
Masterson made his Connacht debut during the 2013/14 season after representing both the Ireland and Scotland U20s. In recent weeks he has deputised in the second row but will return to his favoured back-row position for tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 clash.
 
He’s named at blindside flanker with Conor Oliver on the opposite flank and captain Jarrad Butler returning to the starting side in the number 8 position.
 
Butler’s inclusion is one of 6 changes to the side that lost out to Bristol last weekend, with Shane Delahunt, Quinn Roux, Caolin Blade, Tom Daly and Tiernan O’Halloran also coming into the starting XV.
 
Delahunt lines out in a front row with Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham, while Roux returns from a two-week absence to partner Ultan Dillane. Blade and Fitzgerald form a new half-back partnership with the in-form Daly comes in at inside centre alongside Sammy Arnold. John Porch moves to the wing with O’Halloran starting at full-back and Matt Healy on the opposite wing.
 
Commenting on his team selection, Head Coach Andy Friend says:
 
“Reaching 100 caps for any club is a huge achievement so I’d like to congratulate Eoghan Masterson on the milestone. Eoghan is a very professional athlete who leads from the front by the way he conducts himself both on and off the field. To hit 100 games despite his injury setbacks down the years only adds to the achievement.
 
Building squad depth has been a key objective for us, so we are fortunate to be able to make most of these changes not because of injuries but to keep the squad fresh and give players their deserved opportunities.”
 
Regarding the game itself, Friend added:
 
“No doubt Ulster will be disappointed with their European results, but their PRO14 form this season speaks for itself. Both sets of players and coaches know each other well at this stage so it’s all about sticking to our systems and taking our chances when they come.”
 
CONNACHT MATCHDAY 23 VS ULSTER RUGBY
Sunday 27th December, The Sportsground, k/o 7.35pm

Number/Name/Caps
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (186)
14. John Porch (26)
13. Sammy Arnold (9)
12. Tom Daly (33)
11. Matt Healy (141)
10. Jack Carty (146)
9. Caolin Blade (117)
1. Denis Buckley (187)
2. Shane Delahunt (85)
3. Finlay Bealham (146)
4. Ultan Dillane (103)
5. Quinn Roux (103)
6. Eoghan Masterson (99)
7. Conor Oliver (9)
8. Jarrad Butler (64) (C)

Replacements
16. Dave Heffernan (134)
17. Jordan Duggan (5)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (57)
19. Gavin Thornbury (45)
20. Sean Masterson (7)
21. Kieran Marmion (172)
22. Sean O’Brien (Acad) (1)
23. Colm de Buitléar (6)

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