Following today’s squad announcement for tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 opener against Glasgow, the Connacht medical team have requested the following squad update:
 
Peter Robb (groin) and Matt Healy (calf) will both return to team training next week as they progress their rehabilitation from respective injuries.

Tiernan O’Halloran (hip) sustained a hip injury in training this week and will look to return to training next week.

Ultan Dillane (head) sustained a head injury in the Munster ‘A’ game last weekend and is following return to play protocols.

Cillian Gallagher (shoulder) is continuing his rehabilitation from a shoulder injury and will integrate into team training later this month.

Sean O’Brien (foot) is continuing his rehabilitation from a foot injury.

Oisin Dowling (back) is continuing his rehabilitation for a long term back injury.

Stephen Fitzgerald (knee) is continuing his rehabilitation from knee surgery earlier this year and will integrate into team training later this month.

Irish internationals Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan have both been included in the Connacht squad to face the Southern Kings in Round 13 of the Guinness PRO14 this Sunday in Port Elizabeth (k/o 1pm Irish time, 3pm local time).
 
The pair were both released from the Ireland camp following the postponement of the Six Nations tie with Italy, and duly met up with the squad for the one-match trip to South Africa.
 
Dillane starts in the second row alongside Joe Maksymiw with Heffernan named among the replacements.
 
In all there are six changes from the side that lost to Edinburgh last weekend.
 
Paddy McAllister is drafted back into the front row alongside Shane Delahunt, while there’s also a start for prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy following an ankle injury to Finlay Bealham.
 
The back row is unchanged for the third straight game with Jarrad Butler captaining the side at number 8, with flankers Paul Boyle and Colby Fainga’a alongside him.
 
Caolin Blade comes back into the starting side to partner Jack Carty in the half-back positions, while there’s also a change at centre where Tom Daly is named alongside Kyle Godwin.
 
The final swap comes on the wing where Connacht’s record try-scorer Matt Healy makes up a back three with John Porch and Tiernan O’Halloran.
 
Commenting ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Andy Friend says everyone is keen to put the disappointment of last weekend behind them:
 
“We didn’t get the result we wanted in Edinburgh, so this week has been all about ensuring we get another win on the board. The Kings are a dangerous side especially at home so we will have to be at our very best.”
 
Regarding his team selection, Friend added:
 
“We’ve been able to call on two international footballers in Dave and Ultan which is a nice boost for us. This mini-block of three games is key for us so I believe we have named a squad that can get the job done on Sunday and finish on a high before the short break.”
 
CONNACHT SQUAD V SOUTHERN KINGS (SUNDAY 1 MARCH 2020 @ NELSON MANDELA BAY STADIUM, PORT ELIZABETH)

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Kyle Godwin, Tom Daly, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade.
(1-8): Paddy McAllister, Shane Delahunt, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (c).

Replacements (16-23): Dave Heffernan, Denis Buckley, Conor Kenny, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, Kieran Marmion, Conor Fitzgerald, Peter Robb.

Ireland internationals Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan have returned to the Connacht starting team to face Cardiff Blues at the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick off 7:35pm).
 
The return of the duo is a timely boost to Andy Friend’s side as they prepare for a crucial inter-conference clash that could have a huge bearing on qualification for the knockout stages of the Guinness PRO14.
 
Ballina native Heffernan comes into a front row alongside props Paddy McAllister and Finlay Bealham. Dillane’s inclusion sees him line up alongside the impressive Gavin Thornbury in the second row with Quinn Roux still unavailable through injury.
 
In the back row, Captain Jarrad Butler starts at number 8 with Paul Boyle and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively.
 
Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty continue as the half back pairing with Caolin Blade and Conor Fitzgerald available off the bench.
 
With Bundee Aki still unavailable due to international duty, Peter Robb and Kyle Godwin are selected as the midfield partnership. In the back three Tiernan O’Halloran is selected at full back with Matt Healy and John Porch on the wings.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “The break over the past few weeks has come at a good time for the squad. It allowed time for a few injuries to clear up and gave some recovery time to others that had played a lot of minutes over the 13 week block of games. They boys are ready to go now and know the importance of the next three games in the context of our season”.
 
“With Connacht and Cardiff in the same conference this game becomes even more important. A win in this game last season ultimately qualified us for the knockout stages of the Pro14 and for a spot in the Champions Cup. I’m sure they will be keen to turn the tables this season so we face a huge battle on Saturday”.
 

Connacht Matchday Squad V Cardiff Blues (Sat 15 Feb, 7:35pm)

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion (1-8): Paddy McAllister, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Denis Buckley, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Joe Maksymiw, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.

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

 

Ultan Dillane has returned to the Connacht starting team to face Montpellier in the opening round of the Heineken Champions Cup in the Sportsground on Sunday (Kick off 1pm).
 
Irish international Bundee Aki is also set for his first start since the World Cup, following his appearance off the bench against Leinster last weekend.
 
The return of Aki and Dillane comes as a boost to Andy Friend and his coaching team as Connacht return to Champions Cup action after a two year absence. Dillane comes into the second row alongside Sligo man and former Ireland Under 20 international Cillian Gallagher.
 
In the front row, the inclusion of Dominic Robertson-McCoy is the only change from last weekend. The tighthead prop lines up alongside experienced hooker Tom McCartney and Denis Buckley at loosehead.
 
In the backrow, Colby Fainga’a comes in at blindside with Jarrad Butler at openside and Paul Boyle in his now familiar number 8 jersey.
 
Jack Carty and Caolin Blade continue their half-back partnership and with Irish international Kieran Marmion on the injured list, Stephen Kerins is named as the replacement scrum-half for the second game in a row.
 
Bundee Aki will partner Kyle Godwin in midfield while the back three is made up of Darragh Leader at full back with Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy on the wings.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We have received a boost this week with Ultan Dillane and Matt Healy returning from injury and Bundee Aki back in the starting side. They bring a huge amount of experience at this level and that will be invaluable to us. We are looking forward to the game on Sunday and we know the importance of getting off to a good start in this competition, especially at home”.
 
“We have had incredible support so far this season in the Sportsground and we are expecting a huge occasion again on Sunday afternoon. Everyone associated with Connacht Rugby is excited about our return to the Champions Cup and our focus now is on delivering a win against Montpellier”,
Friend added.
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE
Connacht Matchday Squad V Montpellier (SUN 17 NOV, 1PM)

(15-9): Darragh Leader, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade (1-8): Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Cillian Gallagher, Ultan Dillane, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (C), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Matthew Burke, Conor Kenny, Eoghan Masterson, Robin Copeland, Stephen Kerins, Tom Daly, John Porch
 

The Ireland coaching team have named a 44 strong training squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup pre-season and preparatory camps which commence in mid-June.
 
Over the course of the pre-season period the squad will hold camps in Galway and Limerick as well as their usual base in Maynooth. Open sessions are planned for both the Sportsground in Galway and Thomond Park in Limerick. Details of the open sessions will be announced in due course.
 
Ireland will play at the Aviva Stadium in two Guinness Summer Series fixtures firstly against Italy (August 10th) and then Wales (September 7th). Ireland will also face off against England in Twickenham (August 24th) and Wales at the Principality Stadium (August 31st).
 
Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt, commented, “The provinces have done a great job throughout the season with all four of them being involved in two sets of playoffs.
 
There were some very close calls in selection and it’s always a challenging process because the coaching group are very conscious of how hard the players work. It’s ideal that they get a good opportunity to relax for a few weeks before getting stuck into pre-season training and the busy ‘Guinness Series’ in the lead up to the World Cup.
 
Some players have missed out through injury and there are one or two guys that may be added into the squad at a later stage.”
 
Ireland Training Squad Rugby World Cup Pre-Season
Forwards (24)
Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 9 caps
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 117 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 5 caps
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 14 caps
Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 68 caps
Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 14 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 33 caps
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 88 caps
Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 44 caps
Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 7 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 29 caps
Jean Kleyn (Munster) 0 caps
Jack McGrath (St Marys College/Leinster) 54 caps
Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 27 caps
Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 12 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 57 caps
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 14 caps
Rhys Ruddock (Lansdowne/Leinster) 21 caps
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 18 caps
Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 14 caps
CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 31 caps
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 64 caps
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
 
Backs (20)
Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 17 caps
Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 18 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 3 caps
Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 12 caps
John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 8 caps
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 77 caps
Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 5 caps
Mike Haley (Munster) 0 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 37 caps
Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 17 caps
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 90 caps
Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 13 caps
Kieran Marmion (Galwegians/Connacht) 25 caps
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 10 caps
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 72 caps
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 20 caps
Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 3 caps
Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 83 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 19 caps
 
Unavailable due to injury
Dan Leavy (Leinster)
Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
 
Guinness Summer Series 2019 Fixtures
IRELAND v Italy
Aviva Stadium, Saturday 10th August, KO 2.00pm
(Live Coverage: RTE & Channel 4)

England v IRELAND
Twickenham Stadium, Saturday 24th August, KO 3.00pm
(Live Coverage: Sky)

Wales v IRELAND
Principality Stadium, Saturday 31st August, KO 2.30pm
(Live Coverage: Channel 4)

IRELAND v Wales
Aviva Stadium, Saturday 7th September, KO 2.00pm
(Live Coverage: RTE & Channel 4)

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has made a host of changes to the side that lost to Sale Sharks in the European Challenge Cup Quarter Final last weekend. His side travel to Zebre for a vital Guinness PRO14 clash on Saturday (Kick Off 5:30pm Irish time) – the result of which will have a huge bearing on Connacht’s hopes of reaching the knock out stages of the competition and ultimately qualifying for next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.
 
Among those recalled is Captain Jarrad Butler at number 8, who comes into a back row alongside Eoin McKeon and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively.
 
Ireland international lock Ultan Dillane comes back into the second row alongside Gavin Thornbury, while in the front row, props Denis Buckley and Dominic Robertson-McCoy are selected alongside hooker Dave Heffernan.
 
Jack Carty and Caolin Blade form the half-back pairing, with Carty shaking off an arm injury that caused him to be withdrawn last weekend.
 
In the midfield, Peter Robb comes in for his third start of the season alongside the impressive Tom Farrell.
 
In the back three Tiernan O’Halloran is named at full-back with Matt Healy and Darragh Leader on the wings.
 
Ahead of the game, the Connacht Head Coach says that a win this weekend is vital as his side fight it out for a PRO14 playoff spot; “We have picked a strong side and a side capable of going to Zebre and winning the game. We are fully aware of the dangers that Zebre can present, particularly when they are at home. There are a number of our boys who were not involved in Europe last weekend, so they are coming back in fresh after that break and that brings more energy to the group”, Friend said.
 
On Connacht’s overall performance this season, Friend added; “We said all along that we want to be in the knockout stages of the PRO14 and with three games to go, our destiny is still in our own hands. If we keep winning we will be in that playoff spot so that is our sole focus away to Zebre on Saturday”.
 
 
Kick-off 5:30pm (Irish Time)
(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Eoin McKeon, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).
Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conan O’Donnell, Joe Maksymiw, Robin Copeland, Kieran Marmion, Tom Daly, Cian Kelleher.

Connacht have been boosted by the return of Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion and Ultan Dillane for the Guinness PRO14 clash with Benetton at The Sportsground on Friday night.
 
The return of the trio is a welcome boost to Connacht’s match day squad as they face an in-form Benetton side who have already registered ten wins this season and sit in 2nd place in Conference B of the PRO14.
 
Carty and Marmion will start on the bench, as Caolin Blade and Kyle Godwin are named as the starting half-back partnership.
 
Peter Robb and Tom Farrell start again in the Connacht midfield following the bonus point win over Ospreys in the last round. Meanwhile in the back three, Tiernan O’Halloran is named at full-back with Matt Healy and Darragh Leader on the wings.
 
Dillane’s inclusion sees him named in a second row alongside James Cannon, with Gavin Thornbury returning from injury to take his place on the bench.
 
In the front row, props Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham are selected with Shane Delahunt at hooker.
 
The back row has a familiar look to it with captain Jarrad Butler at number 8 and Eoin McKeon and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively.
 
Ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend says his side are expecting a huge challenge from an in-form Benetton side. “They have been great all year,” said Friend. “I’m not surprised they’re sitting in second spot. They’re playing a physical yet attractive brand of rugby. They’ve got a lot of quality players, so we are preparing for a top side coming to the Sportsground. We are in a similar situation, they are sitting second in their conference and we are third in ours so both teams will be looking for a win.”
 
With four rounds of games left in the PRO14, Friend is satisfied that Connacht’s destiny is in their own hands. “We said at the start of the year we wanted to be there at the business end and we’re there or thereabouts, but we need to keep winning to make sure we control our destiny. If we keep winning we stay in control. If we don’t, then we have to start looking at points and seeing where we can scrounge some. At this stage it’s just about the win.”
 
#CONvBEN

Kick-off 7:35pm:
(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Kyle Godwin, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoin McKeon, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).
Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty, Stephen Fitzgerald.

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

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