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McCartney To Win 50th Connacht Cap Against Wasps

McCartney To Win 50th Connacht Cap Against Wasps

The Connacht team to face Wasps in round 3 of the Champions Cup at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday (kick-off 1pm) has been named. Head coach Pat Lam has made four personnel changes to the side that beat Benetton Treviso last weekend.

Recent Ireland debutant Niyi Adeolokun returns this week and starts on the right wing, shifting Cian Kelleher over to the left. Kieran Marmion also comes back in to start in the number 9 jersey, while Jack Carty is restored at out-half.

Up front, Ultan Dillane is set for his first game since international duty in the November series. Last week’s man-of-the-match, Tom McCartney, will earn his 50th Connacht cap when he runs out in Coventry on Sunday. Finlay Bealham and Peter Robb are both named among the replacements.   

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Commenting on the team selection and the round 3 showdown with Wasps, Pat Lam said: “It’s great to see the return of our internationals who all contributed to a successful and historic autumn series for Ireland. They all add to the competition for places which is making our selection meetings even longer.

“The back-to-back window in Champions Cup is always the most testing and the draw hasn’t let us down with this match-up with an in-form Wasps side. They are flying high in the Premiership and have not lost a game at home in 2016.

“To be involved in this type of fixture is exactly what we worked so hard for last year. We are excited by the challenge and opportunity to test ourselves against one of the best teams in Europe.”

John Cooney was a late withdrawal from the side having suffered a minor quad strain in training this week, while his half-back partner last week, Marnitz Boshoff, is also on Connacht’s injury list after damaging his shoulder against Treviso.

Peter Robb, who was due to be a replacement back, pulled up with a minor hip injury on Friday afternoon. Returning winger Matt Healy, originally selected for Connacht ‘A’ duty, will wear the number 23 jersey instead of Robb.

The westerners’ other injured players at present are Ronan Loughney, Ivan Soroka, Conan O’Donnell, Ben Marshall, Andrew Browne, Eoghan Masterson, Shane O’Leary, Craig Ronaldson, Eoin Griffin, Josh Rowland and Darragh Leader.

As part of his new contract and release deal from Wasps, second row James Cannon is not permitted to play in the back-to-back Champions Cup matches against Wasps.

CONNACHT (v Wasps): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Stacey Ili, Bundee Aki, Cian Kelleher; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, Finlay Bealham, Sean O’Brien, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Rory Parata, Matt Healy.