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Connacht Selection Revealed For Harlequins Tie

Connacht Selection Revealed For Harlequins Tie

Eric Elwood has named his first team selection since taking the reins as Connacht head coach. He is preparing his side for Friday’s opening pre-season friendly against Harlequins at the Sportsground (kick-off 6.30pm).

The 27-man squad includes summer signings Ezra Taylor, Cillian Willis, Shane Monahan and Darragh Fanning as replacements, while Ireland-capped flanker Johnny O’Connor will deputises as captain in the injury-enforced absence of John Muldoon.

Ireland Under-20 international Tiernan O’Halloran will be hoping for a solid night’s work on the right wing, after missing this summer’s Junior World Championship through injury.

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Fellow winger Fionn Carr, who top scored for Connacht last season with 14 tries in 23 matches, will hope to continue that sort of form, while Ian Keatley, Jamie Hagan and Andrew Browne also have plenty to build on.

Connacht have had a busy pre-season regime already, with training trips to the Aran Islands and the Defence Forces headquarters in the Curragh.

New head coach Eric Elwood has an impressive backroom team behind him in team manager Tim Allnutt, newly-appointed backs coach Brian Melrose, defence coach Mike Forshaw and video analyst Conor McPhillips, along with assistant coach Dan McFarland who has been looking after the forwards since 2007.

Commenting on his first few weeks in charge, Elwood said: “It’s been full-on. We’ve tried to change a few things regarding pre-season. We’ve been a bit innovative by running a type of boot camp system.

“We were over in the Aran Islands to give guys a flavour of what Connacht might mean to the people of Connacht and also what Connacht means to the players who play here.

“Only last week we were in the Curragh for three days, on a camp for leadership and growth and bonding for the players.

“It’s been enjoyable, but hard too. Now thankfully the time has come around where we’re coming into our first game.

“So all those days of labour, hard work and tactics, we get the opportunity to try and implement those against a quality side like Harlequins on Friday.”

CONNACHT (v Harlequins): Troy Nathan; Tiernan O’Halloran, Niva Ta’auso, Aidan Wynne, Fionn Carr; Ian Keatley, Conor O’Loughlin; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Jamie Hagan, Michael Swift, Bernie Upton, Andrew Browne, Johnny O’Connor (capt), Mike McComish.

Replacements (from): Rob Sweeney, Dermot Murphy, Dave Nolan, Mike McCarthy, Ray Ofisa, Ezra Taylor, Eoin Griffin, Keith Matthews, Miah Nikora, Darragh Fanning, Shane Monahan, Cillian Willis.