Connacht Rugby head coach Pat Lam has made five personnel changes to his starting XV for the rearranged Guinness PRO12 clash against Zebre in Parma tomorrow afternoon (2.30pm Irish time).

With Irish internationals Tiernan O’Halloran and Kieran Marmion on a scheduled rest week, there are four enforced changes to the back line as Connacht look to make it four wins from five in the PRO12.

Ireland 7’s player Josh Rowland comes in for his first Connacht start at full-back, having made his debut from the bench against Glasgow Warriors last weekend. John Cooney starts at scrum-half while Danie Poolman comes on to the right wing.

There is a new midfield partnership as Tom Farrell starts at outside centre with Bundee Aki shifting to number 12 this week.

Up front, there is just one change with Eoin McKeon replacing Jake Heenan, who struggled to shake off a minor shin injury picked up in the last round.

Ivan Soroka, Eoghan Masterson, Caolin Blade and Eoin Griffin are all additions to the bench with Griffin in line to make his first appearance since September 2016.

Ronan Loughney, Niyi Adeolokun, and JP Cooney all picked up minor injuries in training during the week that ruled them out of selection while Naulia Dawai did not travel as he awaits a Visa renewal.

Commenting on tomorrow’s clash, head coach Pat Lam said:

“We have had to make a few changes this week due to unfortunate niggles picked up in training. But we’re going over to Parma with a clear game plan. We are fully focused on putting in a performance against Zebre that will get us the points on offer.”


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Connacht team to face Zebre     

Saturday April 1st, kick off 3:30pm (2.30pm Irish Time), Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi     

(Connacht caps in brackets)

15           Josh Rowland (1)
14           Danie Poolman (80)
13           Tom Farrell (6)
12           Bundee Aki (56)
11           Stacey Ili (12)
10           Jack Carty (76)
9             John Cooney (36)

1             Denis Buckley (113)
2             Tom McCartney (60)
3             Finlay Bealham (77)
4             Quinn Roux (52)
5             Andrew Browne (150)
6             Sean O’Brien (35)
7             Eoin McKeon (102)
8             John Muldoon (297) (captain)


16          Dave Heffernan (80)
17          Ivan Soroka (0)
18          Dominic Robertson-McCoy (6)
19          James Cannon (13)
20          Eoghan Masterson (35)
21          Caolin Blade (40)
22          Craig Ronaldson (63)
23          Eoin Griffin (74)


Ronan Loughney, JP Cooney, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Jake Heenan, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Naulia Dawai, James Connolly, Kieran Marmion, Marnitz Boshoff, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Niyi Adeolokun, Cian Kelleher, Darragh Leader, Tiernan O’Halloran.


Match Officials
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU, 6th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Graeme Wells (SRU), Emanuele Tomo (FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Roberto Carra (FIR)

Ahead of Sunday’s Champions Cup game away to Toulouse (4:15pm), the Connacht Rugby medical team have provided the following update.

Denis Buckley (foot) sustained a foot injury in the Zebre game and will be monitored this week by the medical staff up to the Toulouse game.

Ronan Loughney (knee) has progressed well in his rehabilitation from surgery and will integrate into full training this week with the squad.

Quinn Roux (groin) has recovered from his groin injury and will integrate into full training this week with the squad.

Ultan Dillane (ankle) has progressed very well in his rehabilitation and will integrate into partial training this week with the squad.

Jake Heenan (knee) and Nepia Fox Matamua (chest) have recovered from their recent injuries and will integrate into full training this week with the squad.

Eoghan Masterson (knee) will integrate in to full training this week following his recovery from a serious knee injury.

Jack Carty (knee) will integrate into training this week with the squad following his injury sustained in the PRO12 game away to Ospreys this month.

Both Shane O’Leary (concussion) and Peter Robb (concussion) have successfully completed the return-to-play protocols and will integrate into full training this week.

Josh Rowland (knee) sustained an injury to his knee playing for the Connacht Eagles at the weekend and will be out of action for up to two months.

Toulouse v Connacht Rugby
Sunday, 22 January
Kick-off: 16:15
Stade Ernest Wallon

Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)
Assistant Ref: JP Doyle (Eng)
Assistant Ref: Peter Allan (Eng)
TMO: David Grashoff (Eng)
Citing Commissioner: John Montgomery (Sco)

Cornish Pirates v Connacht Eagles
Saturday, 21 January
Kick-off: 14:00
Mennaye Field, Penzance, Cornwall

The Connacht Eagles side will play London Irish at Dubarry Park in Athlone tomorrow (2pm) and head coach Mossy Lawler has named his side.

Senior player Josh Rowland returns from long-term injury to start at fullback for the Eagles. Galwegians’ Matthew Byrne and Adam Leavy are on the wings while Ciaran Gaffney who earned two Guinness PRO12 caps with the senior side last month lines out in the centre. The half back pairing is once again made up of Buccaneers’ duo Luke Carty and Conor McKeon.

Danny Qualter will captain the side and is one of three senior players in the pack with Dominic Robertson-McCoy and Rory Moloney also featuring.

Eagles’ head coach Mossy Lawler commented ahead of the round 5 fixture:

“While we’re still looking for our first win of the campaign, what we really want to see as coaches is an improved performance all round. Again, we have a real mix of experience going out tomorrow with limited training time. But we still see it as a great opportunity to test ourselves against a quality side.  

“We’re looking forward to playing in Dubarry Park where a lot of the guys would be used to playing with their club side.”

Connacht Eagles team to face London Irish, Dubarry Park, Sat January 14th, 2pm

(Connacht senior caps and affiliated club in brackets)

15 Josh Rowland (Buccaneers RFC)
14 Matthew Byrne (Galwegians RFC)
13 Ciaran Gaffney (Galwegians RFC)
12 Kieran Joyce (Malone RFC)
11 Adam Leavy  (Galwegians RFC)
10 Luke Carty (Buccaneers RFC)
9 Conor McKeon (2) (Buccaneers RFC)

1 Jack Dinneen (2) (Galwegians RFC)
2 Shane O’Hehir (Sligo RFC)
3 Dominic Robertson-McCoy (4) (Galwegians RFC)
4 Cillian Gallagher (Sligo RFC)
5 Danny Qualter (captain) (14) (Buccaneers RFC)
6 Rory Moloney (1) (Buccaneers RFC)
7 Josh Pim (Galwegians RFC)
8 Marc Kelly (Galwegians RFC)


16 Conor Kyne (Galwegians RFC)
17 Saba Meunargia (2) (Buccaneers RFC)
18 Cian Romaine (Buccaneers RFC)
19 Sean Masterson (Corinthians RFC)
20 Stephen Kerins (Corinthians RFC)
21 Morgan Codyre (Galwegians RFC)
22 Joe Murphy (Corinthians RFC)

Connacht Eagles v London Irish
Saturday January 14th 2017
Dubarry Park
Kick off 2pm

Entry is free for all Connacht Rugby Season Ticket Holders. Under 14’s are also free while it’s just €5 for students, youths and OAP’s and €10 for adults.


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