Ireland international Quinn Roux will Captain Connacht as his side face Munster in the Guinness Pro14 in the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick off 5:15pm). With just one point separating the two sides at the top of Conference B, the top of the table clash takes on extra significance for the second row as he is set to make his 100th appearance for the province.

Connacht also go into the game boosted by the news that Tiernan O’Halloran has returned from injury and will start at full back. He is part of a back three with John Porch and Kyle Godwin on the wings.

In the Connacht midfield, Tom Daly has forced his way into the starting team alongside Bundee Aki. While Conor Fitzgerald continues his half back partnership with Caolin Blade, who has now featured in all 11 of Connacht’s games so far this season.

In the forwards, the tight five has a very familiar look; props Denis Buckley and Finlay are included in the starting team as is hooker Dave Heffernan. While Ultan Dillane will line up alongside Roux in the second row.

In the back row Eoghan Masterson and Paul Boyle are named at blindside and openside respectively with Eoin McKeon at number 8. Captain Jarrad Butler has been ruled out due to illness.

Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “Saturday is another big occasion in the Sportsground. All players want to be involved in these interpro games and with Munster in our conference it takes on extra significance. We take pride in our home record and last season Munster were one of the few teams to beat us in the Sportsground so we know the challenge we will face tomorrow”.

“It will be a proud day for Quinn Roux and his family. Making 100 appearances for Connacht is a great achievement and it is fitting that with Jarrad out, Quinn will captain the side. He has been a real leader for us this season and has been driving standards among the player group”.

Connacht Matchday Squad V Munster (Sat 21 Dec, 5:15pm)

 (15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Tom Daly, Bundee Aki, Kyle Godwin, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade (1-8): Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux (Capt), Eoghan Masterson, Paul Boyle, Eoin McKeon.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Conor Kenny, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Joe Maksymiw, Robin Copeland, Stephen Kerins, Jack Carty, Stephen Fitzgerald.

 

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The Ireland coaching group will host a 24hr mid-season stocktake at the IRFU’s High Performance Centre in Dublin across the 22nd and 23rd December ahead of a busy period of interprovincial and European fixtures.

The group includes five Connacht players; Bundee Aki, Quinn Roux, Ultan Dillane, Dave Heffernan and Caolin Blade.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell commented, “The national coaches have been around the provinces watching games and having good conversations with players and the provincial coaches. 

We have limited opportunities across the busy provincial season to bring a broad group like this together but this 24hr window will allow us to plant a few seeds.   It will also give the coaches a better insight into a few players who been performing consistently well for their provinces.    

The next six weeks is the window for players to put their hands up for selection for our first squad which will be named in late January ahead of the 6 Nations.”

1 Day Mid-Season Stocktake Attendees

Connacht:

Bundee Aki, Caolin Blade, Ultan Dillane, Dave Heffernan, Quinn Roux

Leinster:

Ross Byrne, Will Connors, Max Deegan, Caelan Doris, Tadhg Furlong, Jamison Gibson Park, Cian Healy, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Ronan Kelleher, Jordan Larmour, Luke McGrath, Andrew Porter, Garry Ringrose, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, Jonathan Sexton, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier

Munster:

Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Mike Haley, Dave Kilcoyne, Jean Kleyn, Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahony, Niall Scannell, Rory Scannell, CJ Stander

Ulster:

Will Addison, Billy Burns, John Cooney, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Stuart McCloskey, Marty Moore, Tom O’Toole, Jacob Stockdale

 

Gloucester 26

Connacht 17

A strong second half Gloucester performance turned around Connacht’s three point half time lead as the English side claimed the bonus point win in this Champions Cup Round 3 clash. After the first of the crucial back to back fixtures, the return leg in the Sportsground next Saturday now becomes a must win for Connacht.

Gloucester drew first blood just 4 minutes into the game when Tom Marshall raced onto a pass outside the 22 and ran in under the posts. Amazingly though, Cipriani’s conversion was to prove their final score of the opening half for Gloucester as Connacht mounted a massive defensive display.

Connacht responded with their opening try after 8 minutes when John Porch scored his third try in two games. Porch looked confident in his new full back position and looked an attacking threat throughout.

While Gloucester made a handful of visits inside the Connacht 22 throughout the first half, they couldn’t break down a resolute defence. Connacht had their chances too and their period of pressure was rewarded on 18 minutes when Carty converted a penalty to leave the visitors 3 points to the good – a lead they held to the break.

It was a different Gloucester side that emerged for the second half and within seven minutes of the restart, Louis Rees-Zammit was in for the home side’s second try.

Connacht to their credit tried to stay in touch, but the English Premiership side had found a new level of confidence matched by greater accuracy.

At the game hit the 60 minutes mark, Gloucester were in again just after Kyle Godwin was sent to the bin following a succession of Connacht penalties – the final quarter was always going to be an uphill challenge from here. The home side capitalised on that numerical advantage and in the 65th minute Jake Polledri claimed the bonus point try with Cipriani scoring the conversion to leave it 24 – 10 with 15 to go.

From here Connacht went in search of a losing bonus point but and were unlucky not to have a try with 5 minutes remaining. The try did eventually come though when Quinn Roux drove at the Gloucester line 2 minutes into injury time. Unfortunately though, even with Fitzgerald’s conversion success, Connacht left with nothing.

So Gloucester draw first blood in the back to back battle. Both sides have just six days to regroup for the return leg in the Sporstground next Saturday.

For tickets to the crucial Champions Cup clash clash – Click here

Connacht scorers

Tries: J Porch, Q Roux

Conversions: Jack Carty (1), Conor Fitzgerald (1)

Penalties: J Carty (1)

Gloucester: Tom Marshall,  Louis Rees-Zammit,  Chris Harris (B Twelvetrees),  Mark Atkinson,  Ollie Thorley,  Danny Cipriani (M Banahan), Joe Simpson (Callum Braley ) Val Rapava Ruskin (Josh Hohneck), Franco Marais (Todd Gleave), Fraser Balmain (Jamal Ford-Robinson) Gerbrandt Grobler,  Franco Mostert (Alex Craig), Ruan Ackermann (Lewis Ludlow), Jake Polledri,  Ben Morgan.

Connacht:  John Porch,  Niyi Adeolokun,  Bundee Aki, Peter Robb (Tom Daly,  Kyle Godwin,  Jack Carty (Conor Fitzgerald) , Caolin Blade (Stephen Kerins)  Denis Buckley (P McCabe), Tom McCartney (Jonny Murphy), Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson-McCoy) Joe Maksymiw (Ultan Dillane ), Quinn Roux,  Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a (Robin Copeland), Jarrad Butler.

 

Connacht scrum-half Caolin Blade is set to make his 100th appearance for his home province as his side take on Toulouse in the second round of the Heineken Champions Cup on Saturday (k/o 1pm Irish time).
 
The 25 year old from Monivea picked up the Man of the Match award in the opening round win over Montpellier and he will be hoping for a repeat performance as he forms a half-back partnership with Conor Fitzgerald against the French Top 14 champions.
 
Connacht are boosted by the return of international lock Quinn Roux who will captain the side in the absence of Jarrad Butler. Roux will line up alongside Ultan Dillane in the second row after the latter came through the Montpellier game unscathed following a recent back injury.
 
In the front row there are two changes, with Dave Heffernan coming in at hooker and Peter McCabe at loosehead. Dominic Robertson-McCoy is retained at tighthead with Finlay Bealham named on the bench after a two week layoff with injury.
 
In the back row, the versatile Eoghan Masterson comes in at blindside with Colby Fainga’a at openside and Robin Copeland starting again at number 8.
 
There is a reshuffle in the backline, with Matt Healy at full back in a back three that sees Kyle Godwin and John Porch on the wings, while Tom Farrell comes into the midfield alongside Tom Daly.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said:
 
“We were happy with the character shown against Montpellier but we know we will need to improve as we travel away to Toulouse. We have seen the quality they have in the past few seasons in this competition and winning the Top 14 in France. However we are travelling with a squad that has a huge sense of belief that we can win the game on Saturday”.
 
“We are boosted this week with a number of players returning from injury and the real positive for us is that with a six day turnaround from the Montpellier game we have players coming in fresh into the squad. Saturday is another challenge for us but one we are really looking forward to”, he added.
 

Connacht Matchday Squad v Toulouse (Sat 23 Nov, 1pm Irish Time)

(15-9): Matt Healy, John Porch, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Kyle Godwin, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade. (1-8): Peter McCabe, Dave Heffernan, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a, Robin Copeland.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle, Angus Lloyd, Jack Carty, Peter Robb.

Lock Quinn Roux is set to captain Connacht in a preseason friendly against Russia in Moscow on Saturday (Kick Off 5pm Irish Time).
 
He is named in a strong Connacht side that includes a blend of youth and experience as Andy Friend’s side target their second win of the preseason period.
 
Roux will be joined in the second row by Gavin Thornbury with Ultan Dillane named among the replacements. In the front row the experienced Denis Buckley, who played in Connacht’s last trip to Russia in 2015, starts at loosehead. Alongside him will be hooker Jonny Murphy and Dominic Robertson McCoy at tighthead.
 
In the back row, Eoin McKeon and Paul Boyle are named at blindside and openside respectively with Robin Copeland at number 8. Eoghan Masterson and skipper Jarrad Butler will be among the options on the bench.
 
In the back line, David Horwitz and Angus Lloyd will be the starting half back partnership while Tom Farrell and Tom Daly are in midfield.
 
The back three will be made up of Darragh Leader at full back with Stephen Fitzgerald and new signing John Porch on the wings.
 
At the pre game press conference earlier today, Andy Friend spoke about the importance of the fixture to Connacht’s preparations for the upcoming season; “We are in our seventh week of preseason training so this game is coming at a really good time for us. We have brought a team that includes a number of young players, so this is an opportunity for them to perform on an international stage. As is the nature of preseason friendly games, all our squad will get a decent run out so its going to be very worthwhile for us.”
 
Commenting on the Quinn Roux’s captaincy of the Connacht side for tomorrow’s game, Friend added: “It is great to have Quinn involved. He is a fantastic player for us, and his international experience is a great addition for our team and the players around him”.
 
Connacht Matchday Squad:
(15-9) Darragh Leader, John Porch, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Stephen Fitzgerald, David Horwitz, Angus Lloyd, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Jonny Murphy, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Eoin McKeon, Paul Boyle, Robin Copeland.
Replacements (16-24): Tom McCartney, Matthew Burke, Conor Kenny, Ultan Dillane, Eoghan Masterson, Stephen Kerins, Conor Fitzgerald, Niyi Adeolokun, Jarrad Butler

Bundee Aki, Quinn Roux, Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty have all been named in the Ireland matchday 23 to face Wales in the Guinness Six Nations on Saturday.
 
For the 10th Six Nations game in a row Aki starts at inside centre, while Roux will be looking to build on his caps against England, Scotland and Italy earlier in the campaign.
 
He’s named among the replacements which also includes Kieran Marmion who looks set to win his first Ireland cap since the victory over the All Blacks, and Jack Carty who has made substitute appearances against Italy and France.
 
Rory Best will lead the team out on his 64th and final 6 Nations appearance with Cian Healy and Tadgh Furlong packing down alongside him in the front row. Tadgh Beirne and James Ryan are partnered in the second row with Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and CJ Stander named in the backrow.
 
Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton are named in the pivot positions with Garry Ringrose partnering Bundee Aki for a seventh occasion. Rob Kearney returns to the backfield and is joined by Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale who fill the wing berths.
 
The replacements are Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty and Jordan Larmour.
 
Ireland vs Wales, 2019 Guinness Six Nations Championship, Principality Stadium, Saturday 16th March, KO 2.45pm
 
15. Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 89 caps
14. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 76 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 19 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 16 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 18 caps
10. Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 82 caps (vc)
9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 71 caps
1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 87 caps
2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 116 caps (c)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 32 caps
4. Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 4 caps
5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 16 caps
6. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 56 caps (vc)
7. Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) 55 caps
8. CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 30 caps

Replacements
16. Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 13 caps
17. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 28 caps
18. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 13 caps
19. Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht) 11 caps
20. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 13 caps
21. Kieran Marmion (Galwegians/Connacht) 24 caps
22. Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 2 caps
23. Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 12 caps

Connacht have been boosted by the return of Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Tom Farrell and Caolin Blade from international duty and are named in the Connacht squad to play Ospreys in the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick Off 2:45pm).
 
Dillane and Roux continue their second row partnership that started the Six Nations game against Italy last weekend. They join a front five that includes props Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham with Shane Delahunt coming in at hooker.
 
The back row remains unchanged from the game against Glasgow, with captain Jarrad Butler starting at number 8 and Eoin McKeon and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively.
 
Kieran Marmion starts his second game in a row at scrum half after returning from injury. He forms a half back partnership with Kyle Godwin who comes in at out half.
 
In the midfield Peter Robb gets his first start of the season after impressing off the bench last time out. He is joined in the centre by the returning Tom Farrell.
 
The back three is unchanged with Stephen Fitzgerald and Matt Healy on the wings and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back.
 
With Connacht sitting three points ahead of Ospreys in Conference A of the PRO14, Head Coach Andy Friend knows how important a home win could prove against their conference rivals; “We have trained well and prepared well this week. We have seen a really positive response from the players after a disappointing result last weekend in Glasgow. We will continue to focus on our game and what we can control, as we have done all season. We know every game now is a must win and with a two week break before our next game we are determined to finish this block on a high”, Friend said.
 
Commenting on his team selection, he added: “We are boosted by four of our players coming back from international duty. They bring a huge amount of experience to our match day squad”, he added.
 
#CONvOSP
Kick-off 2:45pm:
(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Stephen Fitzgerald, Tom Farrell, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Kyle Godwin, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, Ultan Dillane, Eoin McKeon, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).
Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, James Cannon, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Tom Daly, Cian Kelleher.

Jack Carty is in line to earn his first cap for Ireland off the bench against Italy while three more Connacht players have been named in the starting XV for Sunday’s Guinness Six Nations clash in Rome.
 
Carty has been included among the replacements while there is an all-Connacht second row of Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux. Roux retains his place in the team after impressing away to Scotland in Round 2 while Dillane will make his first Six Nations start after a man-of-the-match performance for Connacht against the Cheetahs last week.
 
Bundee Aki is the fourth Connacht player in the squad with the centre starting alongside Chris Farrell in midfield. It’s Aki’s eight consecutive Six Nations start since making his debut during the 2017 November Internationals.
 
Ireland Team & Replacements (v Italy, 2019 Guinness Six Nations Championship, Stadio Olimpico, Rome KO 4pm local/3pm Irish)

15. Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 88 caps
14. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 74 caps
13. Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 4 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 14 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 16 caps
10. Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 80 caps (vc)
9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 69 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 26 caps
2. Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 67 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 30 caps
4. Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 12 caps
5. Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht) 10 caps
6. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 54 caps (c)
7. Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) 54 caps
8. Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 26 caps

Replacements
16. Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 11 caps
17. Jack McGrath (St Marys College/Leinster) 53 caps
18. John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 16 caps
19. Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 42 caps
20. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 15 caps
21. John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 6 caps
22. Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht)*
23. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 10 caps

*denotes uncapped player

Bundee Aki, Quinn Roux and Ultan Dillane have been named in the Ireland matchday 23 for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Scotland at Murrayfield.
 
Aki will make his 14th start for Ireland at centre since his debut in the 2017 November internationals, while Quinn Roux is named in the second row having come off the bench in the loss to England last week. Ultan Dillane meanwhile will be looking to add to his 11 Ireland caps after he was included among the replacements.
 
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Scotland, 2019 Guinness Six Nations Championship, BT Murrayfield, Saturday, February 9, kick-off 2:15 pm):
 
Player/Club/Province/Caps –
 
15. Rob Kearney (Leinster/UCD) 87 caps
14. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 73
13. Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 3 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 13
11. Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 15
10. Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 79 (vc)
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 68
 
1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 85
2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 114 (c)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 29
4. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 14
5. Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht) 9
6. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 53 (vc)
7. Sean O’Brien (Leinster/UCD) 53
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 11 caps
 
Replacements
16. Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 66
17. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 25
18. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 12
19. Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 11 caps
20. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 14 caps
21. John Cooney (Ulster/Terenure College) 5
22. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 17
23. Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 10

The Ireland team to play England in the opening round of the Guinness Six Nations Championship at Aviva Stadium has been named.
 
Robbie Henshaw has been named at fullback for the first time since his debut against USA in on the Summer Tour in 2013. Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale are named on the wings with Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose forming the centre partnership.
 
Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray are reunited in the halfbacks as Murray returns to the green jersey, having missed the Guinness Series in November through injury.
 
Up front Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong pack down either side of captain Rory Best. James Ryan and Devin Toner are in the second row with Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier and CJ Stander making up the back row.
 
Sean O’Brien is named in the forward replacements alongside Sean Cronin, David Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter and Quinn Roux. John Cooney, Joey Carbery and Jordan Larmour complete the lineup.
 
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v England , 2019 Guinness Six Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, February 2, kick-off 4:45pm):
 
Player/Club/Province/Caps –
 
15. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster)
14. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster)
12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht)
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
10. Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
 
1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 112 (c)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
4. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster)
6. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)
7. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)
8. CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster)
 
Replacements
16. Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
17. David Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster)
18. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster)
19. Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht)
20. Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
21. John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster)
22. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster)
23. Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)

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