The Connacht side has been named ahead of tomorrow’s clash with the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria (k/o 5.30pm Irish time).

There are seven changes from the side that played last week, with David Hawkshaw handed his first Connacht start at out-half. He forms a new-look half-back pairing with Kieran Marmion, while the only other change in the backs is the return of Tom Daly to inside centre. He partners Tom Farrell, with an unchanged back three of wingers Mack Hansen and John Porch and full-back Oran McNulty.

In the pack there’s a return for Dave Heffernan who forms a very experienced front row with Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham. There’s a new second row pairing of Leva Fifita and Oisín Dowling, meaning Josh Murphy moves to blindside flanker. The rest of the back row consists of openside flanker Conor Oliver and number 8 Jarrad Butler.

The management have opted for a 6:2 split on the bench and includes hooker Grant Stewart and Academy graduate Ciarán Booth, who will both make their debuts for the province if called upon.

Commenting on the team announcement, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:

“Whilst our first two performances have been disappointing and below our own expectations, the mood within the team remains positive.  Everyone has been working really to hard iron out some the issues that have hindered us in the opening rounds, and we’re excited about the opportunity that the Bulls presents.

All five players who joined us post the Stormers match have proven to be great additions for us, especially our Team Captain Jack Carty. It’s been fantastic to have him back training with us for the first time this season, and he’s on target for selection in the not too distant future.”

CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY SQUAD VS VODACOM BULLS

Friday 30th September 2022, 17:30 Irish time / 18:30 South Africa time @ Loftus Versfeld Stadium

Number/Name/Caps ( * denotes uncapped)

15. Oran McNulty (10)
14. John Porch (61)
13. Tom Farrell (81)
12. Tom Daly (62)
11. Mack Hansen (15)
10. David Hawkshaw (2)
9. Kieran Marmion (211)
1. Denis Buckley (210)
2. Dave Heffernan (167)
3. Finlay Bealham (175)
4. Leva Fifita (16)
5. Oisín Dowling (26)
6. Josh Murphy (2)
7. Conor Oliver(42)
8. Jarrad Butler (96) (C)

16. Grant Stewart *
17. Peter Dooley (2)
18. Jack Aungier (33)
19. Gavin Thornbury (64)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (2)
21. Colm Reilly (9)
22. Byron Ralston (2)
23. Ciarán Booth *

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