[maxbutton id="18" url="www.connachtrugby.ie/tickets" ] Connacht have made three changes to their starting XV for tomorrow’s URC clash at home to the Vodacom Bulls (k/o 7.35pm).
Jordan Duggan, Dave Heffernan and Abraham Papali’i are all drafted into the starting line-up, with Papali’i making his first appearance of the season.
Finlay Bealham joins Duggan and Heffernan in the front row, while the second row is unchanged with Oisin Dowling partnering Ultan Dillane.
Abraham Papali’i comes in at number 8, with captain Jarrad Butler moving to openside flanker and Cian Prendergast retaining his spot on the opposite flank.
The half-back partnership of Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty is unchanged, as is the centre pairing of Tom Daly and Tom Farrell.
Wingers Mack Hansen and John Porch and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran complete the back three.
Among the replacements is new signing Leva Fifita who is in line for his Connacht debut, and Irish international Caolin Blade who has returned from injury.
The Sportsground will operate at 50% capacity for the game, nearly one year to the day since the last competitive Pro fixture at the ground in front of supporters.
Head Coach Andy Friend says: “Last week’s result was disappointing but we as a coaching group saw enough to firmly believe we’re on the right track. If we can be more clinical at the crucial times I know we’ll be tough to beat whoever we face, so we hope to see more of that tomorrow against a very formidable Bulls outfit.
Bringing the likes of Papali’i and Fifita into our 23 gives us a lot of physicality, but we’ll need the throw the ball around a lot as well. With the Connacht supporters back behind us in full voice I know we can give them something to cheer about.” CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS VODACOM BULLS
Friday 1st October, The Sportsground @ 19:35
Number/Name/Caps (* denotes uncapped)
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (191)
14. John Porch (41)
13. Tom Farrell (63)
12. Tom Daly (50)
11. Mack Hansen (1)
10. Jack Carty (160)
9. Kieran Marmion (188)
1. Jordan Duggan (14)
2. Dave Heffernan (145)
3. Finlay Bealham (160)
4. Oisin Dowling (8)
5. Ultan Dillane (115)
6. Cian Prendergast (11)
7. Jarrad Butler (74) (C)
8. Abraham Papali’i (14)
16. Shane Delahunt (101)
17. Matthew Burke (24)
18. Jack Aungier (14)
19. Leva Fifita *
20. Conor Oliver (21)
21. Caolin Blade (132)
22. Paul Boyle (58)
23. Sammy Arnold (17)