The Connacht management team have selected their squad for tomorrow’s EPCR Challenge Cup fixture against CA Brive at the Stade Amedee-Domenech (k/o 8pm Irish time).
 
There are eight changes to the side that beat Newcastle Falcons last Saturday at The Sportsground. Two of those changes will see first Connacht starts for Sam Illo and Darragh Murray.
 
Peter Dooley is the only player from the front five that started last weekend that keep his place. He’s joined by Shane Delahunt and Sam Illo in the front row. Gavin Thornbury pairs up alongside Darragh Murray in the second row. The back row sees Shamus Hurley-Langton and Paul Boyle keep their place at 7 and 8 while Oisin Dowling will wear the number 6.
 
In the backs Kieran Marmion starts at scrum half, Bundee Aki returns to centre and Conor Fitzgerald is named at full back.
 
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
 
“We’ve won 5 of our last 7 and tomorrow we hope to make it 6 from 8, so there’s a real sense of momentum building within the group. As is always the case, we can still tidy up certain areas of our game, but overall we’re in a good place heading into Christmas.
 
A French team at their home ground is a tough challenge no matter who we face, and Brive will be exactly that tomorrow night. I’m confident we have a group of 23 men who will meet that challenge head on in what will be a physical encounter. There’ll be a few familiar faces in the opposition that we’ll look forward to catching up with after the game.”

 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS CA BRIVE
Friday 16th December, 20:00 @ Stade Amedee-Domenech

Number/Name/Caps
15. Conor Fitzgerald (59)
14. Adam Byrne (2)
13. Bundee Aki (121)
12. Tom Daly (67)
11. Diarmuid Kilgallen (10)
10. David Hawkshaw (8)
9. Kieran Marmion (217)
1. Peter Dooley (8)
2. Shane Delahunt (119)
3. Sam Illo (5)
4. Darragh Murray (1)
5. Gavin Thornbury(70)
6. Oisin Dowling (33)
7. Shamus Hurley-Langton (7)
8. Paul Boyle (82) (C)

Replacements
16. Dave Heffernan (173)
17. Jordan Duggan (30)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (72)
19. Niall Murray (43)
20. Ciaran Booth (2)
21. Colm Reilly (14)
22. Byron Ralston (7)
23. Oran McNulty (11)

Connacht Rugby are pleased to announce the signing of Irish U20 international prop Sam Illo.
 
Illo represents Old Wesley RFC and has played at underage level at Leinster Rugby, before going on to feature at tighthead in all five of Ireland’s U20 Six Nations games this summer.
 
The 20-year-old has signed a two-year deal and will link up with the Connacht squad next week as they continue their pre-season preparations.
 
Commenting on the newest signing, Head Coach Andy Friend says:
 
“Sam’s arrival to Connacht is another boost for us ahead of the new season. He was one of Ireland’s standout performers in the U20 Six Nations and has a very bright future ahead of him. I’m confident that at Connacht he will be able to take his game to the next level and give us further options in the front row.”
 
Sam Illo says he can’t wait to join up with the squad:
 
“I’m over the moon to be joining Connacht Rugby and I’d like to thank Andy and all the coaches for giving me this opportunity. I’m especially looking forward to linking up with Colm Tucker after working closely with him while with the Ireland U20s. To sign my first pro contract is a dream come true and I can’t wait to get started with the rest of the squad.”

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