Connacht are boosted by the return of Ireland international Quinn Roux for their GUINNESS PRO14 clash with Edinburgh at the Sportsground on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm).
Bundee Aki, Kieran Marmion and Ultan Dillane are all rested after their involvement with Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning Six Nations squad over the last few weeks. Aki and Marmion both played in last Saturday’s final round win over England.
Flanker Eoin McKeon has also returned to the Connacht starting XV having been unavailable through injury since November. McKeon joins a back row that includes openside Jarrad Butler and Sean O’Brien at number 8.
Jack Carty and Caolin Blade continue their half-back partnership which has been a regular feature over the past few weeks in Marmion’s absence. Niyi Adeolokun joins a back-three that includes full-back Tiernan O’Halloran and Matt Healy. Healy became Connacht’s record try scorer after scoring twice against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein to take his career tally to 44.
At the pre-match press conference, Connacht backs coach Nigel Carolan told reporters that Edinburgh will bring a big challenge on Friday night. “They made life really difficult for Munster last Friday night. They turned them over several times at the breakdown and that’s uncharacteristic for Munster,” he said.
“You can see that there’s a real bite to them, there’s a real high level of fitness and physicality. They’re a tough team to play against. They’re very direct and confrontational and they’re a tough team to break down. That’s where our biggest focus has been this week, particularly around the breakdown.”
CONNACHT (v Edinburgh): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney (capt), Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler, Sean O’Brien.
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Coulson, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, James Mitchell, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leader.