Six Connacht players have been handed their first starts of the season for Sunday’s trip to BT Murrayfield to face Edinburgh (k/o 7.35pm).
 
International call-ups and a number of injuries have meant there’s a reshuffle of Andy Friend’s side from the opening two games, with two players potentially making their debuts off the bench.
 
There’s a new-look half-back partnership of Conor Fitzgerald and Caolin Blade, while Tom Daly comes in for his first start of the season alongside Tom Farrell at centre. Sammy Arnold is named on the wing with Alex Wootton and John Porch completing the back three.
 
In the front row there’s a start for Shane Delahunt and Jack Aungier while Denis Buckley continues at loosehead. Some long-term injuries in the second row means Eoghan Masterson comes in to partner Gavin Thornbury, while Abraham Papali’i has been handed his first start of the campaign at number 8. Paul Boyle and captain Jarrad Butler complete the starting team from blindside and openside flanker respectively.
 
The replacements include scrum-half Colm Reilly and Academy lock Cian Prendergast who would both earn their first Connacht caps if called upon.
 
Commenting on his team selection, Head Coach Andy Friend said:
 
“Having seven players away on international duty is a great situation for Connacht Rugby, and it also provides an opportunity for others to step up and look to fill those vacancies over the next period of time. We’ve still got a core group of experienced players to select from within the squad, so I’m really happy with the depth that we’re building”.
 
Regarding the game itself, Friend added:
 
“There’s no doubt that Edinburgh have been one of the form teams in the competition for the last year and have quality all over the pitch. That said, we learned a lot from our game in Cardiff and we’re expecting this to be a similar type of encounter, so I’m confident we can build on that and put in a performance capable of getting a win”.
 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY SQUAD VS EDINBURGH RUGBY
Sunday 25th October, 7.35pm @ BT Murrayfield
 
Connacht: John Porch, Sammy Arnold, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Alex Wootton, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade, Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Jack Aungier, Eoghan Masterson, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Abraham Papali’i
Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Paddy McAllister, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Colm Reilly, Peter Robb, Tiernan O’Halloran

Connacht Rugby can confirm the 16 players who have so far been named in the Connacht Academy squad for the 2020/21 season.
 
Eight players will join the Year 1 programme, five of whom are Connacht-born and were part of the Connacht squad that won the U18 Club Interprovincial Championship in 2018.
 
They are Donnacha Byrne, Hubert Costello, Eoin De Buitléar, Cathal Forde and captain Darragh Murray.
 
Joining them in Year 1 is prop Charlie Ward, lock Cian Prendergast and back row Ciaran Booth.
 
Oisín McCormack and Shane Jennings, who also featured in the U18 squad of 2018, move to Year 2 of the Academy along with Declan Adamson.
 
Year 3 features local boys Colm De Buitléar, who has recovered from a serious achilles injury he sustained last summer, and U20 Grand Slam winner Dylan Tierney-Martin.
 
They’re joined by Oran McNulty – who started at full-back in all three of this year’s U20 Six Nations games for Ireland – as well as Joshua Dunne and Seán O’Brien.
 
Further additions may be confirmed in the coming months.
 
Year 1
Donnacha Byrne
Ciaran Booth
Hubert Costello
Eoin De Buitlear
Cathal Forde
Darragh Murray
Cian Prendergast
Charlie Ward

Year 2
Declan Adamson
Shane Jennings
Oisin McCormack

Year 3
Colm De Buitlear
Joshua Dunne
Oran McNulty
Seán O’Brien
Dylan Tierney-Martin

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