By John O’Sullivan 

 

Connacht defence coach Pete Wilkins says that the Westerners will need to show a high level of game management to win their Saturday 5:15 PM kick off away to the Dragons in the Guinness PRO14.

 

In Connacht’s last game, they left the Scottish capital with a bonus point 37-26 victory over Edinburgh. The win was underpinned by the Sportsground teams excellent exit strategy and efficiency in attack, with scrum-half Caolin Blade and out halves Conor Fitzgerald and Tom Daly expertly pulling the strings. 

 

Against a mobile and skilful Dragons pack, marshalled by their quality half-back pairing of Rhodri Williams and Sam Davies, Wilkins believes that Connacht will need to show the same qualities that saw them take all five points at Murrayfield on their trip to Rodney Parade.

 

“I thought in that Edinburgh game, it was one of the best examples of game management that this team has produced, certainly in my time here,” the former Queensland Reds coach said. 

 

“The way our 9’s(Caolin Blade) and 10’s(Conor Fitzgerald and Tom Daly) controlled the game, with their kicking from our half of the field and their kick selection — of when to go long, when to go for touch, when to go for contestable kicks in the attacking half of the pitch — I thought they managed it really effectively. 

 

“I think their 9 and 10 are really important for them,” Wilkins said of the Dragons’ game plan. 

 

“Rhodri Williams at 9 and Sam Davies at 10, I think both of them have effective kicking games, whether that’s contestable kicks or clearing kicks. It’s not often you see 9’s consistently hitting the half-way line when they’re kicking for touch from rucks or from mauls and Rhodri Williams brings that ability for them to clear their lines really effectively. 

 

“How we can pressure those kicking games will be important. Under their new coaching staff, they’ve got, there’s an organisation about them, an intent to play and if you give them front foot ball they will offload. 

 

“You’ll get show and goes from Sam Davies, you’ll get quick throws and you’ll get offloads from the forwards and little tip ons. Things that will really test our ability to be cohesive in our defence, in terms of being really well spaced and watching the ball really well to make sure that we’re applying pressure. 

 

“The kicking game, the tempo and the improvement in their organisation are the things we will be wary of going into this game,” The Englishman said. 

 

Abraham Papalii’i made his first start of the season in Edinburgh. The New Zealander number 8 made a big impact, carrying for 24 metres from five carries and beating two defenders. Wilkins is excited by the former Rugby League player’s potential and has backed him to continue improving. 

 

“He’s been a great addition to the squad,” the defence coach said. 

 

“The power and physicality — especially around the ball carries — is clear for all to see, even in those few minutes he had in the unfortunate Munster game. With that comes an ability to offload and to get others involved in the game. Certainly that’s something I think we’ll see more and more of as he gets more game time. 

 

“Defensively, very similar to his carrying, he loves to hit hard. He loves to be in the game, to be around the ball and to be contributing. That physicality and that power of the tackle technique is something that, if we can continue to work on the accuracy and consistency of that,  allied with his natural power we can get someone who is a really effective defender. The more he plays the better, from all aspects.”

 

Meanwhile, back-row forward Paul Boyle says that seven of his Connacht teammates being called into the Irish squad for the Six Nations gives him an extra motivation to eventually follow them to international selection. 

 

Bundee Aki, Dave Heffernan, Quinn Roux, Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty, Ultane Dillane and Finlay Bealham were all part of Andy Farrell’s squad for the recently finished Six Nations.

 

The 23-year-old has been an integral part of the Westerners squad since his debut in January 2018 and the Gorey native is confident that — provided he continues to play to a high standard — he can win a place in future Ireland squads. 

 

“If you play well enough, you’re going to be picked,” Boyle said of the path to winning Irish caps. 

 

“I know that if I play well enough here and put in outstanding performances week in and week out that I’m going to get picked. As you can see with the seven guys that we got selected for Ireland, if you’re playing well enough you’re going to get picked.

 

“I just use that as motivation to try and get better every day. It sounds simple, but I try to improve every day and improve every game and hopefully try to force my way into selection.”

There’s a strong Connacht contingent in the Ireland squad for the return of the Guinness Six Nations later this month.
 
Six players from the province are named in Andy Farrell’s 35 player squad, with Bundee Aki and Dave Heffernan retaining their place after they were named in the initial Six Nations squad before the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
There’s also a return to the Ireland setup for Finlay Bealham, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion and Quinn Roux with the quartet showing some impressive form since the return of rugby.
 
The squad which will be captained by Johnny Sexton contains six uncapped players – Ryan Baird, Ed Byrne, Will Connors, Shane Daly, Hugo Keenan and Jamison Gibson Park. While Baird and Connors have been involved in national camps before it will be a first time with the national squad for the other uncapped players.
 
In addition Harry Byrne, Craig Casey, James Lowe, James Tracy and Fineen Wycherley will train with the squad next week at IRFU High Performance Centre in Dublin. Ireland take on Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 24th October before facing France in Paris the following Saturday (31st).
 
Ireland currently sit fourth on the Six Nations table one point behind Scotland and 4 points behind England and France who have all played an extra game. Back in February Ireland recorded wins over Scotland (19-12) and Wales (24-12) before losing to England (12-24) at Twickenham.
 
Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell commented, “There has been a huge effort right across Irish Rugby to ensure that the professional game could return safely and that work is greatly appreciated by the national management. We have protocols in place to safeguard the welfare of the players and staff and are looking forward to completing the Six Nations Championships.
 
We have two competitions to play in over the coming months but will focus first on a strong finish to the 6 Nations Championships. The return to rugby has not been without its challenges as some players have suffered injury setbacks and there has been limited playing opportunities ahead of a busy and exciting international window. We will be closely monitoring the form and fitness of players competing in the Guinness PRO14 over the coming weeks.

 
Ireland Squad 2020 Guinness 6 Nations Championships Round 4 & 5
 
Backs (16)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 26 caps
Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 6 caps
Jack Carty (Connacht/Buccaneers) 10 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 21 caps
Shane Daly (Munster/Cork Con) uncapped
Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 9 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) uncapped
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 43 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 24 caps
Kieran Marmion (Connacht/Corinthians) 27 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 3 caps
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 81 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 29 caps
Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 91 caps CAPTAIN
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 28 caps
 
Forwards (19)
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) uncapped
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Corinthians) 9 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 13 caps
Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Will Connors (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 17 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/UCD) 2 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 98 caps
Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 1 cap
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 55 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 11 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 3 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 67 caps
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps
Quinn Roux (Connacht/Galwegians) 12 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps
John Ryan (Munster/Cork Constitution) 21 caps
CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 41 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps
 
Training with Squad w/c 12th October
Harry Byrne (Leinster/Lansdowne) uncapped
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) uncapped
James Lowe (Leinster) uncapped
James Tracy (Leinster/UCD) 6 caps
Fineen Wycherley (Munster/Young Munster) uncapped

By John O’Sullivan
 
Connacht began their 2020/2021 Guinness PRO14 campaign with a 28-24 win over Glasgow
Warriors at the Sportsground.

 
Two tries from Bundee Aki, a try from Quinn Roux and thirteen points from the boot of Jack
Carty accounted for the Westerners points in a hugely physical affair.
 
Glasgow, meanwhile, through Nick Grigg, Huw Jones and Tommy Seymour added three tries of
their own, but the steely defence and attacking efficiency of the hosts saw them claim a
deserved win.
 
Buoyed on by the 200 socially distanced fans in the Sportsground, Connacht started brightly
and opened the scoring when strong defence from Tom Farrell — which would become a
recurring feature — won a penalty in the Glasgow 22. Carty, showing all the calm in the world,
slotted the kick for Andy Friend’s men’s first points of the season.
 
The visitors reacted well to the concession of the penalty and piled the pressure on Connacht,
but — despite their best efforts, with Hasting prominent in attack — the hosts held firm to deny
them a score in a physically ferocious opening half hour.
 
However, the Scotsmen — who enjoyed a man advantage for ten minutes after Roux was sin
binned — eventually made their pressure count on the stroke of half time. Hastings deft offload
found Grigg’s arching angled run and the centre skipped over for a try. Hastings added the
extras and Glasgow went into the break 7-3 to the good.
 
The visitors started the second period in a similar vein and extended their lead further when
Hastings made no mistake off the tee to take the score to 10-3.
 
Connacht grew into the game thereafter and a beautifully worked move saw them opening their
try scoring account for the season in the most brilliant of fashion.
 
An acrobatic offload close to the line from Peter Sullivan kept the move alive and, after a few
phases, Farrell broke through a would be tackle to feed Aki an offload and the Irish international
powered his way over from short range. Carty slotted the conversion to level things up at 10-10.
 
With the wind in their sails, the Westerners — with Alex Wootton and Aki central to their
attacking plans — continued to probe and their persistence was rewarded when Roux, after
collecting a Kieran Marmion pass, smashed his way over for a try. Once again, Carty was
successful with the boot and Connacht found themselves in a deserved 17-10 lead.
 
The game was beginning to have a tit for tat flow and Glasgow were next to cross the white
wash when Scottish international full-back Huw Jones’s sharp line saw him touch down for a try
that Hastings converted to tie the scoreline at 17-17.
 
The lead would change hands once again when Carty, benefitting from a Glasgow offside,
bisected the posts with an excellently struck penalty to set up a gripping final 15 minutes with
Connacht leading 20-17.
 
Defensively, the Westerners back-three were solid throughout but didn’t have much opportunity
to stretch their legs and express themselves in attack. John Porch, however, on a rare foray
forward, started a brilliant move that resulted in Aki dotting down for a try.
 
The former Australian Sevens player fielded a long kick and showed his pace by flying up the
pitch and offloading accurately to Wootton. The winger exploded into space and his clever kick
through was chased by Aki, who — showing a brilliant turn of speed — picked up to go over for
the try. The conversion was narrowly wide, but the try set up a tense finale at 25-17 to the home
team.
 
Glasgow, who Connacht were winless against in their previous six games, responded strongly
and they made it a one point game with their third try. Seymour, the 2017 British and Irish Lions
tourist, showed strong footwork to dive over in the right corner for a try that Hastings converted
to take the score to 25-24.
 
Deservingly, Carty — whose intelligent territorial kicking and accurate place kicking were key
throughout for the hosts — had the final say when he drilled a long range penalty between the
posts to seal Connacht’s win and start their season off on a winning start, 28-24.
 
Connacht team(15-9)
15: John Porch
14: Peter Sullivan
13: Tom Farrell
12: Bundee Aki
11: Alex Wootton
10: Jack Carty
9: Kieran Marmion
(8-1)
8: Paul Boyle
7: Conor Oliver
6: Jarrad Butler(C)
5: Quinn Roux
4: Gavin Thornbury
3: Finlay Bealham
2: Dave Heffernan
1: Denis Buckley
Replacements; Blade for Marmion, Duggan for Buckley, Aungier for Bealham, Murray for
Thornbury, Masterson for Oliver, Arnold for Aki.

Following the end of week 4 of pre-season training, the Connacht management team have issued the following squad update.
 
Jonny Murphy (head), Matthew Burke (thigh), Finlay Bealham (ankle), Kieran Marmion (ankle), Tom Farrell (shoulder) and Matt Healy (ankle) have all returned to team training follow injuries they sustained prior to the postponement of fixtures.
 
Oisin Dowling (back) is undergoing a period of rehabilitation for a long term back injury and will integrate into team training towards the end of August
 
Quinn Roux (hand) is continuing his rehabilitation from a recent surgery on his hand and will integrate into team training towards the end of August
 
Sean O’Brien (foot) is progressing his rehabilitation and will integrate into team training in early September.
 
Peter Robb (thigh) is recovering from a hamstring injury and will integrate into team training towards the middle of August
 
Stephen Fitzgerald (knee) is continuing his rehabilitation from knee surgery earlier this year and will integrate into team training in early October.

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

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