Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has announced his team and replacements to face Munster in Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 derby match at the Sportsground (kick-off 7.45pm).
Head coach Eric Elwood is able to call on lock Mike McCarthy and prop Brett Wilkinson, who have been involved with the Ireland Six Nations squad, and welcome back John Muldoon, Kyle Tonetti and Henry Fa’afili into the starting line-up.
Ronan Loughney moves back to tighthead prop where he has excelled this season and is joined in the front row by hooker Ethienne Reynecke and Wilkinson.
McCarthy and Michael Swift renew their second row partnership, while athletic Academy forward Michael Kearney links up with Ray Ofisa and Muldoon in the back row.
Frank Murphy and Miah Nikora continue as the province’s starting half-backs with Fa’afili and Eoin Griffin filling the centre berths. The back-three consists of Tiernan O’Halloran, Kyle Tonetti and captain Gavin Duffy at full-back.
The replacements bench sees sub-Academy prop Finlay Bealham making the matchday squad for the first time alongside the fit-again Rodney Ah You, and both players will look to make a big impression from the bench.
The interprovincial match looks set to break a new record for the highest attendance of a league game for Connacht.
The previous record was broken on New Year’s Day when over 6,500 fans packed out the Sportsground for the visit of Leinster and ticket sales for the Munster game have exceeded that already, setting up another titanic interpro battle.
Meanwhile, Connacht Rugby will be launching their exceptionally popular Season Tickets in the coming days and supporters should keep an eye on www.connachtrugby.ie to avail of the best offers.
CONNACHT (v Munster): Gavin Duffy (capt); Kyle Tonetti, Eoin Griffin, Henry Fa’afili, Tiernan O’Halloran; Miah Nikora, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Ethienne Reynecke, Ronan Loughney, Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, Michael Kearney, Ray Ofisa, John Muldoon.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Finlay Bealham, Rodney Ah You, Eoin McKeon, Eoghan Grace, Paul O’Donohoe, Matthew Jarvis, David McSharry.