Tom Farrell will become the latest Connacht centurion when he lines out in Saturday’s BKT United Rugby Championship opener against Ospreys at The Sportsground (k/o 3pm).
Farrell joined Connacht in 2017 from Bedford Blues and has become a key member of the squad from outside centre, scoring 19 tries.
There’s also debuts for up to six summer signings. Joe Joyce, JJ Hanrahan and Andrew Smith are all named in the starting XV, while Tadgh McElroy, Seán O’Brien and Liam McNamara could earn their first Connacht caps if called upon from the bench.
The rest of the matchday squad has a settled look to it, with a front row of Denis Buckley, Dylan Tierney-Martin and Jack Aungier. Lock Oisin Dowling partners Joyce, while the backrow sees number 8 Jarrad Butler joined by flankers Cian Prendergast and Shamus Hurley-Langton.
Scrum-half Caolin Blade is named as captain, while centre Cathal Forde starts alongside Farrell. Wingers Byron Ralston and Diarmuid Kilgallen complete the side with Smith selected at full-back.
Tickets are still available at connachtrugby.ie for what will be the first men’s competitive fixture at The Sportsground in over 6 months.
Commenting ahead of the game, head coach Pete Wilkins says:
“Firstly it’s great that we’re finally ready to kickstart our season. It’s been 16 weeks since we started pre-season and while in many ways it’s flown, it’s great that we’re now back to what we enjoy most which is competitive rugby.
It’ll be a proud day for Tom Farrell and his family when he becomes our latest centurion, and then on the flipside to that we’ve up to 6 players starting their Connacht careers with us, so there’s a good blend of experience and freshness there.
Ospreys are always a challenging opposition. They’ll be extremely physical and well-organised, so it’s up to us to meet that challenge head-on and send the fans home happy.”
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS OSPREYS
15:00, Saturday 21st October 2023 @ The Sportsground
15. Andrew Smith *
14. Diarmuid Kilgallen (16)
13. Tom Farrell (99)
12. Cathal Forde (13)
11. Byron Ralston (15)
10. JJ Hanrahan *
9. Caolin Blade (170) (C)
1. Denis Buckley (228)
2. Dylan Tierney-Martin (24)
3. Jack Aungier 50)
4. Oisín Dowling (44)
5. Joe Joyce *
6. Cian Prendergast (47)
7. Shamus Hurley-Langton (20)
8. Jarrad Butler (114)
16. Tadgh McElroy *
17. Peter Dooley (18)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (79)
19. Niall Murray (56)
20. Seán O’Brien *
21. Colm Reilly (17)
22. Jack Carty (195)
23. Liam McNamara *