Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has announced a 24 man squad to travel to Moscow and take on the Russian National team in a preseason friendly on Saturday evening (Kick Off 5pm - Irish Time).
Connacht have selected a squad that includes a blend of youth and experience to play the Russians who are preparing for the World Cup in Japan where they will play Ireland on the 3rd of October.
This is the second of three preseason friendly fixtures for Connacht ahead of the upcoming schedule of PRO14 and Champions Cup rugby. Connacht defeated Oyonnax in France last month and will welcome neighbours Munster to the Sportsground on the 21st of September.
The Connacht squad features a mix of experienced players and others who have graduated from the Academy last season. Out-half Conor Fitzgerald is included in the 24 and he will be hoping for a similar display to what he produced in the Oyonnax win when he came off the bench to score a try which he then converted to give Connacht a one point victory
Elsewhere in the back line, centres Tom Farrell and Tom Daly are both included with Niyi Adeolokun, Stephen Fitzgerald, Daragh Leader and new signing John Porch among the back three options.
In the pack, there is a huge amount of experience available with prop Denis Buckley, second rows Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux and back rows Eoin McKeon, Robin Copeland and Jarrad Butler all named in the squad.
The Connacht Squad will fly to Moscow on Wednesday evening and have an opportunity to train on Thursday and Friday before the game in the newly developed VTB Arena on Saturday evening.
Commenting ahead of the squad’s departure to Russia, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend says that there are a number of benefits to this unique fixture; “We are delighted to accept the invitation from the Russian Rugby Union to travel to Moscow for this game. It has the obvious benefit of giving players some game time in what is a longer preseason that usual. It’s also another opportunity to build further on the group cohesion in the squad. For many of our younger players in particular, this is a unique opportunity to play in a country and a venue that not many players get to play in. We also have a handful of players who played for Connacht in a Challenge Cup fixture in Russia back in 2015 so there is a good mix among the group”.
The Head Coach also says he is extremely happy with how the squad have performed during the block of preseason training; “The squad have been putting an incredible effort into preparations for the coming season. We have been back in full training since July and we are progressing well. This is a longer preseason than normal due to rescheduling around the World Cup and that presents its challenges, but it also means we have more time to work on our detail and allow longer periods of rest and recovery. Over the past two weeks the Connacht Eagles side have also recorded back to back wins over Dragons and Ospreys in the Celtic Cup so that gives further confidence to those players involved”, Friend added. Connacht Squad to travel to Moscow to play Russian National team
Forwards - Denis Buckley, Matthew Burke, Jonny Murphy, Tom McCartney, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Conor Kenny, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Ultan Dillane, Eoin McKeon, Paul Boyle, Jarrad Butler, Robin Copeland, Eoghan Masterson.
Backs - Angus Lloyd, Stephen Kerins, Conor Fitzgerald, David Horwitz, Stephen Fitzgerald, Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Daly, Tom Farrell, John Porch, Darragh Leader.