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Butler To Captain Connacht In Crunch Tie With Ospreys

Butler To Captain Connacht In Crunch Tie With Ospreys

Flanker Jarrad Butler is set to captain Connacht for the first time in the province’s GUINNESS PRO14 match against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm). 

A single point separates the two sides in Conference A and the winners of Friday’s game will put themselves in pole position to reach the Champions Cup play-off. Jarrad Butler is joined in the back row by blindside Sean O’Brien and Eoin McKeon at number 8, with John Muldoon named among the replacements.

There are a number of changes in the Connacht pack with Conor Carey coming in at tighthead prop and Shane Delahunt set to start at hooker. Ultan Dillane returns to the second row alongside James Cannon.

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Peter Robb, who has recently returned from injury, pairs up with Eoin Griffin at centre, and the all-Ireland international back-three remains unchanged with Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy on the wings and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.

Speaking ahead of the crunch round 19 fixture, Connacht defence coach Peter Wilkins said: “The Ospreys are in the driving seat in terms of that final Champions Cup qualification (play-off) spot. We see the season as very much alive, but we need to make sure we perform and put the Ospreys under pressure on Friday.

“They are a similar side to what we encountered last week against Gloucester (in the Challenge Cup quarter-final), so after the disappointment of that defeat we have a huge opportunity this weekend.”

CONNACHT (v Ospreys): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Peter Robb, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler (capt), Eoin McKeon.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, John Muldoon, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leader.