Connacht lock Quinn Roux is set to captain Connacht for the first time ahead of Saturday’s final European Challenge Cup pool game away to Bordeaux-Begles (k/o 3pm Irish time). Roux has played 90 times for Connacht since making his debut in 2014 and signed a two-year extension to his contract earlier in the season.

Andy Friend’s team selection also includes a debut for Academy scrum-half Stephen Kerins. The 22 year old Sligo man forms a new-look half-back partnership with out-half David Horwitz. Caolin Blade and Jack Carty have been named among the replacements.

The midfield partnership is made up of Bundee Aki and Tom Farrell, both of whom were named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad this week. While in the back three Matt Healy and Darragh Leader will start on the wings and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.

In the pack there is a return to action for number 8 Eoin McKeon who starts his first game since suffering a shoulder injury against Glasgow on the opening day of the season. He forms joins a back row alongside flankers Paul Boyle and James Connolly. Up front props Pete McCabe and Finlay Bealham are joined by hooker Shane Delahunt. In the second row Gavin Thornbury will partner the captain Quinn Roux.

Among the replacements is hooker Jonny Murphy who is named in the Connacht matchday squad for the first time, while Eoin Griffin has returned from injury to take his place on the bench.

Connacht go into the game knowing a win will guarantee them a place in the quarter-finals, and Head Coach Andy Friend says his team must be completely focused on the task at hand.
“We know that a win of any description will secure a quarter final spot”, he said.

“Achieving any win away in France is difficult. French teams pride themselves on their home record and make it difficult for the opposition and we expect Bordeaux to be no different. Having said that we will be sticking to the approach that has served us well this season and we will be focusing on our own game.”

A win would mean a number of potential opponents in the last eight, but Friend has stresses that their focus remains solely on this weekend. “We haven’t really looked at all the different permutations, all we know is we need to get to Bordeaux and do a job. Ideally it would be a bonus-point win but a win is all we’re focusing on at the minute.”

#BORvCON  (Kick-off 3pm Irish time)

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, David Horwitz, Stephen Kerins. (1-8) Pete McCabe, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux (C), Paul Boyle, James Connolly, Eoin McKeon.

Replacements (16-23): Jonny Murphy, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Connon, Eoghan Masterson, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty, Eoin Griffin.

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