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Connacht Announce 24-Man Squad For Siberian Trip

Connacht Announce 24-Man Squad For Siberian Trip

Later this evening, a 24-man Connacht squad will depart from Shannon Airport for the nearly 6,000 km trip to Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

The two-flight, nine-hour journey will see the Connacht squad arrive in the Siberian city (7 hours ahead of GMT) at 11am on Wednesday where they will prepare for the Saturday’s European Challenge Cup opener against Russian side Enisei-STM.

The uncapped duo of Peter Robb and Sean O’Brien are included in the traveling panel and join their Academy colleagues James Connolly, Shane Delahunt, Conan O’Donnell and Rory Parata for the trip.

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Experienced returnees, Jason Harris-Wright and Ronan Loughney, are named to travel having both played in Connacht Eagles’ win over Leinster ‘A’ last week.

The westerners’ team for Saturday’s opening European clash will be announced on Friday at 12pm Irish time.

Speaking about Connacht’s adventure to Russia, team manager Tim Allnutt said: “The cold at this time of the year could be the biggest factor. The temperature there at this time of the year can be anything from -7 to -20 degrees. But the stadium we are playing in has underground heating so the risk element of it being called off is reduced.

“We are flying there on Tuesday to get out early so the bodies can get used to the time difference of seven hours ahead. It’s our first time out there but we are familiar with the team.

“The first time they came over (to Galway), they did have some massive men. But they have improved, and the fact that they have gained qualification for this competition shows that. I’ve watched them a few times and they are big.”

He added: “They’re definitely going to be different conditions than we are used to. We’ll have thermals under our shirts but not on the legs. Just normal shorts. The unknown elements are the mileage and the time difference. We really don’t know what to expect.

“We’ve spoken to the hotels there, given them our menus and hope they can provide the food. My experience of travelling with teams is if the hotel is okay and the players are eating good food, then they are happy.

“This is a challenge and we are embracing it as that. It is what European rugby is about and we’ll go out there and get on with it and face what’s in front of us.

“We are hearing that there could be 26,000 people in their stadium and that this will be one of the biggest games in their history, so we are expecting a hostile environment, which is another thing we are prepared to deal with.”

The following players are unavailable this week – Rodney Ah You, Fionn Carr, John Cooney, Matt Healy, Robbie Henshaw, Kieran Marmion, Ben Marshall, Tom McCartney, Dave McSharry, Tiernan O’Halloran, Danie Poolman, Quinn Roux and Nathan White.

CONNACHT Squad (v Enisei-STM): Backs (10) – Darragh Leader, Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Peter Robb, Rory Parata, Craig Ronaldson, Jack Carty, AJ MacGinty, Ian Porter, Caolin Blade.

Forwards (14) – Jason Harris-Wright, Dave Heffernan, Shane Delahunt, Conan O’Donnell, Ronan Loughney, Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham, Aly Muldowney, Daniel Qualter, Ultan Dillane, James Connolly, Sean O’Brien, George Naoupu, John Muldoon (capt).