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Marmion Gets The Nod For Connacht

Marmion Gets The Nod For Connacht

Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has announced his team and replacements to take on the Cardiff Blues in the opening round of the RaboDirect PRO12 at the Sportsground on Saturday (kick-off 5pm).

Gavin Duffy will lead the home side out, having been announced as captain for a second year running. The former Mayo minor footballer has 10 Ireland caps and was called up to the Ireland squad during the summer tour to New Zealand.

Duffy is supported on the wings by Fetu’u Vainikolo and Tiernan O’Halloran, who were both regulars last season, while there is a first competitive outing for the dynamic centre partnership of newcomer Mata Fifita and Eoin Griffin.

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Kieran Marmion will gain his first senior cap for Connacht at scrum half. He started in the pre-season friendly against Harlequins and also played a pivotal role for the Ireland Under-20s at this summer’s IRB Junior World Championship, starting four of their five games en route to a highest ever finish of fifth.

Another regular from last season is out-half Miah Nikora who got a good run-out in both of the province’s recent pre-season friendlies.

Connacht have plenty of experience amongst the starting forwards. John Muldoon, Mike McCarthy and Johnny O’Connor have almost 450 caps between them, while record holder Michael Swift will be making his 220th appearance for the province this weekend.

Ronan Loughney, with 105 caps, provides more experience in the front row with George Naoupu, Denis Buckley and Ethienne Reynecke completing the selected pack.

Looking forward to kicking off the new season, Connacht boss Eric Elwood said: “All the pre-season training has led to this point and we can’t wait to get going.”

CONNACHT (v Cardiff Blues): Gavin Duffy (capt); Tiernan O’Halloran, Eoin Griffin, Mata Fifita, Fetu’u Vainikolo; Miah Nikora, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Ethienne Reynecke, Ronan Loughney, Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, John Muldoon, Johnny O’Connor, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Rodney Ah You, Finlay Bealham, David Gannon, Willie Faloon, David Moore, Matthew Jarvis, Robbie Henshaw.