Connacht coach Michael Bradley is hoping lock and captain Andrew Farley and influential flanker Ray Ofisa can both pass fitness tests and take their places in the westerners’ line-up for tomorrow’s Magners League showdown with Leinster (The RDS, kick-off 7.30pm).
If both Farley and Ofisa are ruled fit to play, Bradley’s starting selection will show just one change to the side that drew 14-14 with Edinburgh in Galway last week. Farley, who is nursing a hamstring injury, would come in for David Gannon in the second row.
Ofisa, who started the game against Edinburgh, has a calf injury to overcome. Should Ofisa fail to start tomorrow night, Michael McCarthy will be bumped up from the replacements bench to take his place at blindside flanker.
Connacht’s matchday squad also includes fit-again prop Ronan Loughney, who has been out of action since injuring his hamstring against Glasgow four weeks ago.
Speaking to the Galway Independent, coach Bradley said: “I think all the sides – Munster, Leinster, Ulster and Connacht – recognise that the most intense matches tend to be the derbies.
“We’ve had our opportunities in particular last year against Leinster, and if we were able to sustain our effort for 80 minutes we would have won both or either match against them, but we didn’t.
“Still, we’re going up to the RDS full of confidence based on the performances we’ve had so far in the season. We think that Leinster are also playing very well. They’ve improved their squad this year, as have we and there are big European matches around the corner so there is a lot to play for, for both sides.”
CONNACHT (v Leinster): Gavin Duffy; Ofisa Treviranus, Mel Deane, Aidan Wynne, Keith Matthews; Tim Donnelly, Conor McPhillips; Brett Wilkinson, John Fogarty, Robbie Morris, Michael Swift, David Gannon/Andrew Farley (capt), Ray Ofisa/Michael McCarthy, Johnny O’Connor, John Muldoon.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, David Gannon/Andrew Farley/Andrew Browne, Ray Ofisa/Michael McCarthy/Colm Rigney, Conor O’Loughlin, Peter Durcan, Darren Yapp.