Eoin Griffin is poised to make his 100th appearance in a Connacht jersey as he is named on the bench for the Guinness PRO14 clash with the Dragons in the Sportsground on Saturday (kick-off 5:15pm).

The Galway man made his Connacht debut in 2010 and is on his second term with the province having spent two campaigns with London Irish from 2014 to 2016. He returned to the Sportsground ahead of the 2016/17 season.

With Bundee Aki, Quinn Roux and Finlay Bealham all away on international duty in Chicago, Head Coach Andy Friend is forced to make a number of changes to his starting team. He is however boosted by the availability of Kieran Marmion who starts at scrum-half as he prepares for the upcoming home November internationals.

Marmion has a new half-back partner with David Horwitz set to make his first start for the province at out-half. Kyle Godwin also comes into the midfield where he partners Tom Farrell.

In the back three there is a start for Colm De Buitléar on the wing, with Cian Kelleher on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.

In the forwards, Conor Carey steps in for Finlay Bealham while James Cannon comes into the second row for Quinn Roux.

The only other change is in the back row where captain Jarrad Butler starts at number 8 with Colby Fainga’a slotting in at openside.

Eoin Griffin is joined on the bench by academy player Matthew Burke and summer arrival Joe Maksymiw who are both in line to make their Guinness PRO14 debuts for the province.

Commenting ahead of the game, Head Coach Andy Friend feels his players need to be capable of adapting to whatever is thrown at them; “We’ve got to be a team that can adapt. If we’re allowed to get the quick ball and play the way we want, we will threaten any side. If we can’t, whether that’s because of our ball carrying not being strong enough, or the ball not coming out because tacklers aren’t being removed, then we need to trust our defensive system. Our attack is potent enough if we get the ball we want, but if we can’t we have got to adapt”, Friend said ahead of the game.

Friend also praised experienced centre Eoin Griffin as he prepares his landmark achievement of 100thappearance with his home province, “Eoin Griffin is the ultimate professional rugby player, who is an example to every up and coming player in the province. It is fitting that he is making his 100th appearance in front of his home crowd. It is a significant milestone for him and his family and everyone in Connacht Rugby”, Friend said.  

 

Tickets for tomorrow’s game are still available and the best prices can be found online HERE

 

#CONvDRA

Kick-off 5:15pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell, Colm De Buitléar, David Horwitz, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Sean O’Brien, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Conán O’Donnell, Joe Maksymiw, James Connolly, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty, Eoin Griffin.

Back row Sean O’Brien and lock Gavin Thornbury have both returned from injury and are named in Andy Friend’s Connacht side to face Zebre in the Sportsground on Saturday in the Guinness PRO14 (Kick off 5:15pm).

 

Centre Eoin Griffin and lock Quinn Roux, who came off the bench last week, are the other two changes to the side that lost by the narrowest of margins to Glasgow in Round One. 

 

O’Brien comes into a back row that includes captain Jarrad Butler at openside and Academy player Paul Boyle who moves to Number 8 for his second start of the season. New signing Colby Fainga’a increases Connacht’s back row options as he is named among the replacements for the visit of the Italians. 

 

Caolin Blade and Jack Carty continue their half back partnership with returning Irish international Kieran Marmion also named on the bench. 

 

In form winger Cian Kelleher is named in a back three that includes Matt Healy on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back. 

 

Announcing his team, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend spoke of the threat that Zebre bring; “We have picked a strong side again this week and I am satisfied that we are seeing some real competition in the squad. With the Eagles side playing Munster in the new Celtic Cup all of our available players will get game time this weekend”, Friend said.

 

“We are well aware of the challenge that Zebre pose. From what I have seen of them they are a big physical side who are well able to throw the ball around. We are expecting another big crowd in the Sportsground and a similar atmosphere to what we witnessed last weekend”, he added. 

 

#CONvZEB

Kick-off 5:15pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Eoin Griffin, Kyle Godwin, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler, Paul Boyle.

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Conán O’Donnell, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, Colby Fainga’a, Kieran Marmion, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun. 

Connacht Rugby have announced that four more current players have extended their contracts with the province. The four backs, Cian Kelleher, Craig Ronaldson, Eoin Griffin and Darragh Leader will all add to the strength of the squad in the 2018/19 season.

Kelleher joined Connacht from Leinster in 2016 and the winger has since made 32 appearances and scored 9 tries during his time at the Sportsground.

Craig Ronaldson signed for Connacht in 2013 and the former Lansdowne man has played 81 times for Connacht, winning a PRO12 Championship in 2016. The versatile back has featured in the midfield and at out-half, where he has made the majority of his 13 appearances this season scoring 50 points.

Eoin Griffin has made over 90 appearances in the Connacht jersey. Having made his debut for his home province in 2011 he joined London Irish in 2014 for two seasons and returned to Connacht in 2016.

Darragh Leader, another Connacht native, has scored 3 tries in his 15 appearances this season and was also part of the successful PRO12 squad in 2016.

Commenting on the latest contract extensions, Connacht Rugby CEO, Willie Ruane said: “We are delighted that Cian Kelleher, Craig Ronaldson, Eoin Griffin and Darragh Leader have all extended their contracts. They are four important backs that will further strengthen our options next season. They are also four ambitious young players who are determined to bring further success to Connacht.”

Welcoming the contract extensions, Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane added: “Our squad list for the 2018/19 season is really taking shape now and it is great that these four important players have extended their contracts. I have been really impressed with what I have seen of all four players so far and they will be central to our ambitions next season.”

 

Ends

Connacht Eagles Coach Mossy Lawler has selected a blend of youth and experience in his starting XV aiming for back to back wins over Richmond in the B&I Cup on Sunday (K.O. 1pm). Having beaten Richmond away last weekend, the Connacht team go into the fixture in confident mood on Sunday.

After an outstanding kicking display off the tee last weekend, Conor McKeown is retained at scrum half with Andrew Deegan at out half after scoring a try in the away game. The experienced Eoin Griffin and Peter Robb, who continues his comeback from injury, form the midfield pairing.

The side is captained by Academy player Paul Boyle at number 8 and he is joined in the back row by flankers Naulia Dawai (blindside) and Sean Masterson (openside).

The game kicks off at 1pm. For live updates of the game tune to Galway Bay FM.

 

(15-9) Matt Byrne, Adam Leavy, Eoin Griffin, Peter Robb, Stacey Ili, Andrew Deegan, Conor McKeown,
(1-8) Conan O’Donnell, David Heffernan, Conor Kenny, Peter Claffey, Gavin Thornbury, Naulia Dawai, Sean Masterson, Paul Boyle (Capt)

Replacements (16-23): Pat O’Toole, Denis Coulson, Callum Torpey, Dylan Tierney, Caolin Blade, Steve Crosbie, Craig Ronaldson.

Our medical team have issued the following update ahead of the home clash with Munster on Friday night (7.35pm).

There are still tickets available for the Sportsground clash here.

Prop:

Dominic Robertson-McCoy has undergone surgery on his thumb after sustaining an injury in the Worcester game and will be out of action until the end of 2017.

JP Cooney sustained an ankle injury in the Eagles game versus Ealing and will be out of action for a number of weeks.

Lock:

Andrew Browne is rehabilitating from an Achilles tendon injury is due to return in early November.

Back Row:

James Connolly sustained an ankle injury in the game versus Worcester and is awaiting the results of a scan to determine the extent of the injury.

Jake Heenan is progressing well in his recovery from a knee injury and will return to action in December.

Sean O’Brien is recovering following shoulder surgery and will be out of action until early 2018.

Out-half:

Steve Crosbie will integrate into team training this week following his ankle injury sustained in the Ulster game.

Centre:

Eoin Griffin sustained an injury to his calf in the game versus Worcester and will be monitored by the medical and performance staff this week.

Peter Robb is rehabilitating from recent hip surgery and will be out of action until December.

Back Three:

Stacey Ili sustained a shoulder injury in the Eagles game versus Ealing and is awaiting the results of a scan to determine the extent of the injury.

Cormac Brennan underwent shoulder surgery last week and will return in early 2018.

 

Ahead of Sunday’s Guinness PRO12 game away to Benetton Treviso, the Connacht Rugby medical team have provided the following update.

Andrew Browne (ankle) has recovered from his ankle injury and will integrate fully into training this week.

Stacey Ili (ankle), Bundee Aki (ankle) and Eoin Griffin (chest) have recovered from their respective injuries and will integrate fully into training this week.

Cian Kelleher (hamstring) has recovered from his hamstring injury and will integrate fully into training this week.

Benetton Treviso v Connacht Rugby
Sunday 26 February
At Stadio Monigo, 1.30pm local time (12.30pm Ireland & UK)

Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 57th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Davies (WRU), Guiseppe Vivarini (FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Marco Cordelli (FIR)

 

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