The Connacht management team have made six changes to their starting XV, as the province aims to secure at home knockout tie in tomorrow’s EPCR Challenge Cup clash with Newcastle Falcons (k/o 5.30pm).
 
There are starts for Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Leva Fifita, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Conor Fitzgerald and the fit-again Adam Byrne.
 
Fresh off his Ireland inclusion in the Six Nations, Finlay Bealham forms the front row with Buckley and Delahunt, while Josh Murphy keeps his place in the second row. The back row is completed by captain Jarrad Butler at number 8, and openside flanker Conor Oliver.
 
Colm Reilly is retained at scrum-half, while the Cathal Forde-Byron Ralston combo at centre continues after impressive performances last weekend. Byrne is named on the right wing, with Alex Wootton on the left and Mack Hansen again named at full-back.
 
A losing bonus point ensures a home tie in the Round of 16, but a bonus point win could also mean potential home games further in the knockout stages.
 
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
 
“It’s been a good Challenge Cup campaign for us so far, but tomorrow’s game is very important in mapping out our potential route in the knockout stages. We want to play as many games as possible at our home so we travel to England knowing every point matters.
 
Newcastle brought huge amounts of physicality to The Sportsground last month so it’s up to us to match that at their home turf, and as always away from home we then need to take our chances when the opportunities arise.”

 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS NEWCASTLE FALCONS
Saturday 21st January, 17:30 @ Kingston Park

Number/Name/Caps
15. Mack Hansen (23)
14. Adam Byrne (4)
13. Byron Ralston (11)
12. Cathal Forde (6)
11. Alex Wootton (39)
10. Conor Fitzgerald (62)
9. Colm Reilly (16)
1. Denis Buckley (221)
2. Shane Delahunt (123)
3. Finlay Bealham (184)
4. Leva Fifita (21)
5. Josh Murphy (10)
6. Shamus Hurley-Langton (11)
7. Conor Oliver (53)
8. Jarrad Butler (106) (C)

Replacements
16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (14)
17. Jordan Duggan (33)
18. Jack Aungier (42)
19. Darragh Murray (4)
20. Ciaran Booth (4)
21. Caolin Blade (160)
22. Tom Daly (70)
23. Tom Farrell (89)

Captain Jack Carty will make his first appearance of the season in tomorrow’s historic BKT United Rugby Championship interpro against Munster at The Sportsground (k/o 19:35).
 
The fly-half has recovered from wrist surgery to take his place in the starting team, with five changes in total from the side that faced the Vodacom Bulls last week.
 
Shamus Hurley-Langton is handed his first start, while Gavin Thornbury, Byron Ralston and Conor Fitzgerald also return to the starting XV.
 
Fitzgerald is handed the number #15 jersey while David Hawkshaw starts at inside-centre. Kieran Marmion, Mack Hansen and John Porch make up the rest of the backs.
 
The experienced front row of Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham is unchanged, while Oisín Dowling partners Thornbury in the second row. Flanker Conor Oliver and number 8 Jarrad Butler complete the starting XV.
 
The management team have opted for a 6:2 split on the bench with back rowers Josh Murphy and Paul Boyle both among the replacements.
 
The fixture is set to be a momentous occasion with the new state-of-the-art synthetic surface playing host to its first fixture. Limited tickets remain on sale at connachtrugby.ie.
 
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
 
“We won’t hide from the fact our performances and results haven’t been good enough. We’ve been guilty of too many unforced errors, and at this level you’re going to be punished. As is always the case against Munster, the team who brings the greater level of physicality, linked with superior discipline and minimal error count is that team that usually comes out on top, so those three things are a key focus for us this week.
 
With the new pitch and our friends, family and supporters behind us, we’ll be doing everything in our power to get that first win of the season.”

 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY SQUAD VS MUNSTER RUGBY
Friday 7th October 2022, 19:35 @ The Sportsground
 
Number/Name/Caps
15. Conor Fitzgerald (55)
14. John Porch (62)
13. Byron Ralston (3)
12. David Hawkshaw (3)
11. Mack Hansen (16)
10. Jack Carty (180) (C)
9. Kieran Marmion (212)
1. Denis Buckley (211)
2. Dave Heffernan (168)
3. Finlay Bealham (176)
4. Gavin Thornbury (65)
5. Oisín Dowling (27)
6. Shamus Hurley-Langton (3)
7. Conor Oliver (43)
8. Jarrad Butler (97)

16. Grant Stewart (1)
17. Peter Dooley (3)
18. Jack Aungier (34)
19. Niall Murray (37)
20. Josh Murphy (3)
21. Colm Reilly (10)
22. Tom Daly (63)
23. Paul Boyle (75)

Gavin Thornbury will captain Connacht for the first time in tomorrow’s BKT URC opener against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium (k/o 7.35pm).
 
The lock will make his 64th appearance for the province in a squad that includes three debutants and a possible two more off the bench.
 
Peter Dooley, Josh Murphy and Byron Ralston have all been handed their first Connacht cap, with Shamus Hurley-Langton and David Hawkshaw also potential debutants off the bench.
 
Dooley is named in a front row with Jack Aungier and hooker Dave Heffernan, while Leva Fifita partners Thornbury in the second row. The pack is completed by flanker Conor Oliver and number 8 Paul Boyle.
 
Kieran Marmion and Conor Fitzgerald are paired together at 9 and 10, while the two Toms – Daly and Farrell – start at centre. Ralston’s first game will be on the right wing, with John Porch on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.
 
Commenting on the team announcement, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
 
“We’ve had a very positive pre-season and there’s now a huge sense of excitement among the group. There’s a genuine belief and optimism about what we can achieve in this first block of games, which all starts in Belfast tomorrow night.
 
Ulster are a quality side and our battles against them are always hard fought. We’re really looking forward going head-to-head with them in what should be a great season opener for us both.”
 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY SQUAD VS ULSTER RUGBY
Saturday 17th September 2022, 19:35 @ Kingspan Stadium
 
Number/Name/Caps ( * denotes uncapped)
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (206)
14. Byron Ralston *
13. Tom Farrell (79)
12. Tom Daly (61)
11. John Porch (59)
10. Conor Fitzgerald (53)
9. Kieran Marmion (209)
1. Peter Dooley *
2. Dave Heffernan (165)
3. Jack Aungier (31)
4. Gavin Thornbury (63) (C)
5. Leva Fifita (15)
6. Josh Murphy *
7. Conor Oliver (41)
8. Paul Boyle (73)

16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (6)
17. Denis Buckley (208)
18. Sam Illo (2)
19. Niall Murray (35)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton *
21. Caolin Blade (150)
22. David Hawkshaw *
23. Oran McNulty (9)

Five Connacht players will represent the province for the first time in tomorrow’s pre-season friendly away to Castres (k/o 7pm Irish time).
 
Grant Stewart, Shamus Hurley-Langton, David Hawkshaw, Byron Ralston and Adam Byrne have all been selected in the starting XV for the first outing of the campaign.
 
Ralston partners Tom Daly in the centre who captains the side, while Byrne is selected on the wing with Alex Wootton on the opposite wing and Oran McNulty at full-back. Hawkshaw starts at out-half with scrum-half Caolin Blade alongside him.
 
Ciaran Booth and Hurley-Langton are selected at blindside and openside respectively with Sean Masterson at number 8. Niall Murray and Oisín Dowling are paired together in the second row, and the squad is completed by props Denis Buckley and Dominic Robertson-McCoy.
 
11 players are named among the replacements, five of whom are in the Academy. They are Eoin de Buitléar, Josh O’Connor, Charlie Ward, Bart Vermeulen and Donnacha Byrne.
 
CONNACHT SQUAD VS CASTRES OLYMPIQUE
Wednesday 24th August @ Stade de la Chevaliére, Mazamet (k/o 19:00 Irish time)
 
15. Oran McNulty
14. Adam Byrne
13. Byron Ralston
12. Tom Daly (c)
11. Alex Wootton
10. David Hawkshaw
9. Caolin Blade
1. Denis Buckley
2. Grant Stewart
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
4. Niall Murray
5. Oisín Dowling
6. Ciaran Booth
7. Shamus Hurley-Langton
8. Seán Masterson

16. Eoin de Buitléar
17. Matthew Burke
18. Sam Illo
19. Darragh Murray
20. Oisín McCormack
21. Colm Reilly
22. Shane Jennings
23. Josh O’Connor
24. Charlie Ward
25. Bart Vermeulen
26. Donnacha Byrne

Connacht Rugby are delighted to confirm the signing of Shamus Hurley-Langton from the Manawatu Turbos.
 
Born in Taranki on New Zealand’s North Island, Hurley-Langton has made 18 appearances for Manawatu across the Mitre 10 Cup and NPC in the last two years. He earned significant plaudits for his performances with the New Zealand outfit and was named Rookie of the Year for 2020, leading to him being named in the Hurricanes’ wider training group.
 
A powerful runner and a threat at the breakdown, the 21-year old has predominately played as a number 8 but in recent years has also covered both positions on the flanks.
 
Shamus Hurley-Langton has released the following:
 
“I’m really excited about my move to Connacht Rugby. I’ve had a lot of discussions with Andy and the coaching team who spoke really well about what I could offer at the club. Connacht play a very attractive brand of rugby and the idea of relocating to the West of Ireland was one that appealed to me. I can’t wait to get settled, meet my new teammates and see what it’s in store for the future.”
 
Andy Friend says Hurley-Langton’s arrival is a major plus for the club:
 
“We’ve been following Shamus for quite a while now. He’s extremely powerful and offers us something a bit different to our other back row options next season. He’s still only 21 so has the potential to get even better, so we’re really looking forward to integrating him into the group and seeing what he can produce.”

Related

Six changes for trip to Newcastle in Challenge Cup

Bealham, Hansen and Aki named in Ireland squad to face Wales
6 Nations

Bealham, Hansen and Aki named in Ireland squad to face Wales

3 days ago
Gallery: Connacht v Lions
Gallery

Gallery: Connacht v Lions

6 days ago
Dylan Tierney-Martin signs three-year contract extension
DTierneyMartin

Dylan Tierney-Martin signs three-year contract extension

2 weeks ago