Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has announced an extended squad for the province’s Amlin Challenge Cup Pool 1 clash with Bayonne at Stade Jean Dauger on Saturday (kick-off 8.45pm local time/7.45pm Irish time).
With some players still recovering from knocks from last weekend, a number of them will face late fitness tests to ascertain their availability.
Meanwhile, versatile forward Mike McCarthy is set to earn to 100th cap for the province in Saturday’s match against Bayonne, the current leaders of Pool 1.
The 29-year-old joined Connacht in 2003 and left for the Newcastle Falcons the following year where he won 67 caps, including seven Heineken Cup appearances in three seasons.
He returned to Connacht in 2007 and the 6ft 4in, 113kg lock-cum-flanker has been ever present in the squad since then.
McCarthy was born in London where he attended Sedbergh School before joining Wasps in 2001. He represented England in the Under-21 World Championship in South Africa in 2002, under coach Brian Ashton, before moving west to Connacht in 2003.
‘Macca’ was ever-present throughout Connacht’s 2009/10 run in the Amlin Challenge Cup where they remained unbeaten up until the semi-finals, against Toulon, with victories over Montpellier, Olympus Madrid and Worcester along with a famous quarter-final win over French giants Bourgoin at the Sportsground.
CONNACHT Squad (v Bayonne) – Backs (11): Cillian Willis, Frank Murphy, Ian Keatley, Miah Nikora, Keith Matthews, Niva Ta’auso, Shane Monahan, Eoin Griffin, Brian Tuohy, Fionn Carr, Aidan Wynne.
Forwards (14): Brett Wilkinson, Jamie Hagan, Rodney Ah You, Ronan Loughney, Dylan Rogers, Sean Cronin, Adrian Flavin, Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, Andrew Browne, Bernie Upton, Shane Conneely, Mike McComish, Johnny O’Connor.