Connacht coach Michael Bradley has made three changes to the starting lineup for Connacht’s crunch Challenge Cup return fixture against Narbonne
Connacht coach Michael Bradley has made three changes to the starting lineup for Connacht’s crunch Challenge Cup return fixture against Narbonne.
The halfback partnership is changed completely. Conor O’Loughlin makes way for Chris Keane at scrumhalf while Paul Warwick returns in place of Eric Elwood. Warwick had been due to start last week but fell ill with a stomach bug in the run-up. The third change sees Conor McPhillips return from a hamstring injury in place of Ted Robinson.
So the pack stays intact, and will seek to inflict themselves on the Narbonne unit, as they threatened to do at various points last week. The task is a challenging one, but given that Connacht faced a fifteen point deficit against the same side two years ago, they will feel that it is not beyond them.
Narbonne have made more sweeping changes for the return leg, resting their entire front row, including the legendary Franck Tournaire. Club Captain Jean Marie Bisaro returns to the back row in place of Laurent Baluc Rittner. In addition, Nicola Nadu returns for Cedric Rosalen, who scored 10 points last week, and in-form winger Julien Candelon returns for Sylvain Barthes. The changes behind can be anticipated to strengthen the visitors.
In a bid to generate a raucous atmosphere and local passion, the Connacht Branch are offering free entry to anybody dressed in a Connacht jersey. Get your kit on for the lads, as they say.
Connacht: M McHugh, M Mostyn, D Yapp, J Downey, C McPhillips, P Warwick, C Keane; R Hogan, B Jackman, S Knoop, A Farley, C Short, M Swift, M Lacey, J Muldoon.
Replacements: John Fogarty, D McFarland, M Carroll, P Neville, C O’Loughlin, E Elwood, T Robinson.
Narbonne L Ferrers, F Lartigue, D Douy, J P Viard, J Candelon, N Nadau, J Seron; R Palomera, F Rofes, L Martine, M Sierra, P Short, D Hunter, J M Bisaro, B Bedes.
Replacements: M Bigou, L Zanini, M Dehaese, S Barthes, L Baluc Rittener, M Siro, P O Julien.