Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has announced his team and replacements for Friday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 match against Edinburgh at the Sportsground (kick-off 7.30pm).
Academy prop Denis Buckley earns his first competitive start for the province in the absence of Brett Wilkinson, who is involved with the Ireland set-up this weekend.
The 22-year-old Buckley made his debut for Connacht last September against Benetton Treviso and despite being a member of the Connacht Academy, the Creggs-born loosehead has made a big impact in a number of Connacht’s major games this season.
With five caps to date, Buckley has starred against both Italian outfits, including Connacht’s season opening victory over Treviso, as well as European powerhouses Toulouse and the famous Heineken Cup victory over Harlequins in the Sportsground.
The only other change to the starting line-up sees the return of Frank Murphy at scrum half. Murphy has been out of action with a groin injury since early January. His return to full fitness sees him replace Paul O’Donohoe in the number 9 jersey.
Connacht’s match against Edinburgh is not being televised so the only way to catch all the action live is by getting down to the Sportsground on Friday night. Tickets can be purchased from www.connachtrugby.ie orr www.ticketmaster.ie.
CONNACHT (v Edinburgh): Gavin Duffy (capt); Fetu’u Vainikolo, Kyle Tonetti, Henry Fa’afili, Tiernan O’Halloran; Niall O’Connor, Frank Murphy; Denis Buckley, Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, John Muldoon, Eoghan Grace, George Naoupu.
Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Dylan Rogers/Brett Wilkinson, Stewart Maguire, Michael Kearney, Ray Ofisa, Paul O’Donohoe, Matthew Jarvis, Eoin Griffin.