Experienced lock Andrew Browne comes back into Kieran Keane’s Connacht line up for the Guinness PRO14 clash with in Ospreys in the Sportsground on Friday (Kick Off 7:35pm). Also back from injury and in the starting XV are lock James Cannon and out-half Craig Ronaldson.

With Bundee Aki away on international duty, Tom Farrell and Eoin Griffin form the centre pairing. Likewise, with Kieran Marmion’s absence, Caolin Blade starts at scrum half.

Having recently announced that he will retire at the end of this season, John Muldoon will captain the side from his number 8 position. He will be joined in the back row by Eoghan Masterson at blindside and openside Naulia Dawai.

The back three is made up of Tiernan O’Halloran at full back, with Cian Kelleher and Matt Healy on the two wings.

During the next block of four games, Connacht take on three of their Conference rivals, including a trip to South Africa to take on the Cheetahs. Head Coach Kieran Keane is well aware of the importance of the upcoming fixtures and the need to get off to a good start against the Ospreys. “We are up for this game, we know the importance of it”, he told reporters at the pre-game press conference. “This is a really important block of games for us and will have a big bearing on our PRO14 season. We have a Quarter Final in the Challenge Cup to look forward to later in the season but there is a lot of rugby to play before that, so our focus is firmly on the league at the moment”.

 

#CONvOSP

Kick-off 7.35pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Craig Ronaldson, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Andrew Browne, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, Naulia Dawai, John Muldoon (Capt).

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, James Connolly, James Mitchell, Jack Carty, Pita Ahki.

 

 

 

Ahead of our clash with Ospreys in the Sporstground on Friday (K.O. at 7:35pm), our Medical Team have issued the following Squad Update.

General Report:

A number of players have integrated into team training this week following short and long-term injuries and are likely to be available for selection this weekend versus Ospreys. This includes Finlay Bealham (knee), James Cannon (shoulder), Andrew Browne (achilles), Sean O’Brien (shoulder), Craig Ronaldson (hip), Steve Crosbie (knee) and Cormac Brennan (shoulder).

 

Prop:
Denis Buckley is continuing his rehabilitation from ankle surgery and will be out of action until later this month.

JP Cooney is recovering from hamstring surgery and will be out of action until April.

Hooker:
Pat O’Toole is continuing his rehabilitation for his hamstring injury under the supervision of the medical and performance team and will return to action in mid-February.

Back Row:
Jarrad Butler is recovering from his hand injury and will be out of action until mid-February.

Eoin McKeon is progressing well in his rehabilitation from a calf injury and will return to team training in the coming weeks.

Jake Heenan is continuing his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and will be out of action until April.

Centre:
Peter Robb is continuing his rehabilitation from his recent hamstring injury and will return to training in the coming weeks.

 

Back Three:

Niyi Adeolokun is progressing well in his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury sustained in the Oyonnax game and will return to team training later this month.

 

Tickets for the game are available here

 

James Cannon is the only fresh injury concern this week after picking up a shoulder injury against Munster. James Connolly and Cian Kelleher have both returned to training this week.

 

Prop:
Denis Buckley is rehabilitating from ankle surgery last week and will be out of action until February.

JP Cooney is recovering from recent hamstring surgery and will be out of action until April.

 

Hooker:
Pat O’Toole is continuing his rehabilitation for his hamstring injury under the supervision of the medical and performance team.

 

Lock:
James Cannon sustained a shoulder injury in the game vs Munster and will be out of action for a number of weeks.

Andrew Browne has stepped up his rehabilitation from his achilles injury and will return to action in mid January.

 

Back Row:
Eoin McKeon is progressing well in his rehabilitation from a calf injury and will be out of action until the end of January.

James Connolly will integrate fully into team training this week following his recent calf injury.

Sean O’Brien is recovering following shoulder surgery and will return to team training in late January.

Jake Heenan is continuing his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and will be out of action until April.

 

Outhalf:
Steve Crosbie will be out of action until the end of January with a knee injury.

 

Back Three:
Cian Kelleher will integrate fully into team training this week following his recent head injury.

Cormac Brennan is progressing well in the final stages of his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and will return to team training in February.

Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane has made three changes to his starting team that travel to the RDS to take on Leinster on New Year’s Day (K.O. 3:15pm). Hooker Tom McCartney, lock James Cannon and winger Cian Kelleher come into the side having all started as replacements in the home win over Ulster last weekend.

McCartney takes his place in the front row alongside loose head Denis Coulson and tight head Finlay Bealham. The pack that dominated against Ulster and contributed four tries, two from lock Ultan Dillane and one each from flankers Eoghan Masterson and Jarrad Butler, sees one other change. Lock James Cannon comes in as a direct replacement for Quinn Roux.

Cian Kelleher joins a back three that includes the in form winger Matt Healy and full back Tiernan O’Halloran. In the midfield Ireland international Bundee Aki and Tom Farrell continue their partnership.

Jack Carty continues at out half alongside scrum half Kieran Marmion.

Connacht will take confidence from the win against Ulster but will be fully aware of the challenge they face against an in form Leinster side according to Head Coach Kieran Keane. “It was great to get the interpro series off to a flying start against Ulster and coming off two big wins in Europe it was no more than the boys deserved. They are a great group and have been working really hard and we saw the results of that hard work with the performance they delivered against Ulster”, Keane said.

“We face another big challenge against Leinster. They are a top side and are really in form as we saw with their performance against Munster in Thomond Park. We will be focusing on ourselves and our game plan and will try and implement it as best we can. We had a fantastic home crowd that really got behind us in our win last weekend, but the roles will be reversed on New Year’s Day. We will be the underdogs against Leinster and we will need to put in a big performance against them”, added Keane.

Flanker Eoghan Masterson who scored a try in the win over Ulster, feels that Connacht’s game plan has been coming together over the last few weeks. “It takes time to get used of a new style and a new system and that’s what we have been working on since the start of the season. When people outside of Connacht don’t see immediate results, they presume that the plan isn’t working but that’s not the case and we have seen things really coming together over the last few weeks. Against Leinster we are fully aware of the challenge. The RDS is a very tough place to go and win and very few teams manage to do it. The interpro games are difficult games, especially when you are playing away from home, so we are under no illusion of the challenge we face on New Year’s Day”.

 

#LEIvCON

Kick-off 3:15pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Bundee Aki, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (Capt)

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Naulia Dawai, Caolin Blade, Eoin Griffin, Niyi Adeolokun.

Our medical team have issued the following update ahead of the clash with Ulster on Friday (K.O. 7.35pm – Live on BBC1 NI)

 

Lock:

Andrew Browne is rehabilitating from an achilles tendon injury and will be out of action for a number of weeks.

 

James Cannon has returned to training with the squad this week following his thigh injury.

 

Back Row:

Naulia Dawai will return to training with the squad this week following his hamstring injury.

 

Jake Heenan injured his knee in the game versus Scarlets and will see a specialist this week to determine the extent of the injury.

 

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

 

Scrum-half:

James Mitchell has progressed well with his shoulder injury and will integrate into training with the squad this week.

 

Centre:

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

 

Back Three:

Niyi Adeolokun has integrated into training with the squad this week following his knee surgery in the off-season.

 

Matt Healy has returned to training with the squad this week following his groin injury.

Our medical team have issued the following squad update ahead of Friday night’s Guinness PRO14 clash against Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets (7.35pm).

Lock:

Andrew Browne is rehabilitating from an achilles tendon injury and will be out of action for a number of weeks.

James Cannon sustained a minor thigh strain in training last week and is currently rehabilitating under the supervision of the medical and performance staff.

Back Row:

Naulia Dawai is progressing well with his hamstring rehabilitation and is due to return to training next week.

Sean O’Brien is recovering following shoulder surgery last week.

Scrum-half:

James Mitchell is progressing well in his recovery from a shoulder injury and will return to training in the coming weeks.

Centre:

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

Back Three:

Tiernan O’Halloran has recovered from his hip injury sustained against the Dragons and has returned to training.

Matt Healy is progressing well with his groin rehabilitation and is due to return to training next week.

Cormac Brennan has returned to training following his recent shoulder injury.

Niyi Adeolokun is continuing his recovery from knee surgery and will return to training in the coming weeks.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

On the road for our next three games (see fixture details here), we are then back at home for a triple-header against Worcester Warriors, Munster & Cheetahs – buy tickets here.

 

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