10 Dec, 10:30
The IRFU and Munster are pleased to announce that Conor Murray has signed a new two-year contract with the IRFU which will see him remain at Munster until at least June 2016.
It's a tale of two outhalves at the Sportsground this evening when Connacht take on Newcastle at 6.30pm.
Newcastle have confirmed that Jonny Wilkinson, England's World Cup hero, will start his first match since injuring his shoulder last December. The England team has suffered grievously in his absence and there will be immense UK media interest in the game as a result. Recent media reports suggest that Wilkinson is in terrific shape after his extended layoff, as he has had time to work on his general fitness.
But it's not all about the Falcons no. 10, as Eric Elwood makes his 150th appearance for the province tomorrow evening. This legend of Connacht rugby can look forward to a marvellous reception from the Sportsground faithful.
Michael Bradley's Connacht have eight players ruled out for the game including Bernard Jackman who is unavailable due to national squad requirements, while John Fogarty, Darren Yapp, Mark McHugh, Dan McFarland, Andrew Farley, Ray Hogan and Chris Keane are unavailable due to injury.
Making their Connacht debuts will be Niall O'Brien who has been with Clontarf for two season and started his career with county Galway club Monivea, former Leinster centre James Downey at first centre and Pieter Myburgh at number 5.
Connacht starting xv: 15. Matt Mostyn, 14. Ted Robinson, 13. Niall O'Brien, 12. James Downey, 11. Conor McPhillips, 10. Eric Elwood, 9. Tom Tierney; 1. Adrian Clarke, 2. Henry Bourke, 3. Peter Bracken, 4. Pieter Myburgh, 5. Christian Short, 6. Michael Swift, 7. Matt Lacey, 8. John O'Sullivan.
Replacement: Tony Buckley, Stephen Knoop, Mike Carroll, Paul Neville, John Muldoon, Conor O'Loughlin, Mike Walls, Paul Warwick, David Slemen, Justin Meagher.
Newcastle Falcons starting XV: 15 Joe Shaw,14 Tom May,13 Jamie Noon, 12 Mark Wilkinson,11 Michael Stephenson, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (joint captain), 9 Hall Charlton; 1 Ian Peel (joint captain), 2 Matt Thompson, 3 Micky Ward, 4 Stuart Grimes, 6. Craig Hamilton, 6 Mike McCarthy, 7 Phil Dowson, 8 Colin Charvis.
Replacements: James Isaacson, Andy Long, Marius Hurter,Ed Kalman, Luke Gross, Geoff Parling, Semo Sititi, Ed Williamson, James Grindal, Dave Walder, Mathew Tait, Mark Mayerhofler, Ollie Phillips, Lee Dickson.
Injured tour squad players: Stuart Mackie (broken collar bone, Epi Taione (bruised ribs), Andy Buist (ankle)