The Connacht management team have made eight changes to their side for Sunday’s BKT URC interpro with Leinster at the RDS Arena (k/o 7.35pm).
There are starts for Peter Dooley, Dave Heffernan, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Darragh Murray, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Jarrad Butler, David Hawkshaw and Diarmuid Kilgallen, as the province aim to start 2023 on a high.
For the first time Roscommon brothers Niall and Darragh Murray start together in the second row, while Cian Prendergast moves to blindside flanker with Butler at number 8.
Captain Jack Carty is joined by scrum-half Caolin Blade while Hawkshaw partners Tom Farrell at centre. The back three sees John Porch move to the left wing with Kilgallen on the right and Tiernan O’Halloran retained at full-back.
Illness has ruled Finlay Bealham, Josh Murphy and Mack Hansen out of the matchday squad, while Bundee Aki is on a down-week due to his involvement with the Irish setup in November.
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
“There’s no bigger challenge in the URC than the one we have on Sunday night and it’s one we’ll relish. The performance against Ulster wasn’t good enough but if we cut out our unforced errors and play like we did in those final 20 minutes it’ll give us every chance of a win.
Unfortunately we’re missing a few players through illness but this is a great opportunity to see the benefits of the depth within the squad, which is the best it’s been in my 5 years here.”
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS LEINSTER RUGBY
Sunday 1st January, 19:35 @ RDS Arena
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (212)
14. Diarmuid Kilgallen (11)
13. Tom Farrell (87)
12. David Hawkshaw (10)
11. John Porch (69)
10. Jack Carty (187) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (158)
1. Peter Dooley (10)
2. Dave Heffernan (175)
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (74)
4. Darragh Murray (2)
5. Niall Murray (45)
6. Cian Prendergast (36)
7. Shamus Hurley-Langton (9)
8. Jarrad Butler (104)
16. Shane Delahunt (121)
17. Denis Buckley (219)
18. Sam Illo (6)
19. Oisín Dowling (35)
20. Conor Oliver (50)
21. Kieran Marmion (219)
22. Tom Daly (68)
23. Byron Ralston (8)