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Butler To Captain Connacht For Coming Season

Butler To Captain Connacht For Coming Season

Connacht head coach Andy Friend has confirmed that back rower Jarrad Butler will captain the province in 2018/19, admitting that it was ‘an honour’ to make the announcement at the season launch in Elverys’ Headford Road store in Galway.

Jarrad Butler was the Connacht Players’ Player of the Year in his debut season at the Sportsground, impressing with a number of dynamic displays throughout his 19 appearances. He will take over the captaincy from long-serving provincial legend John Muldoon who retired in May.

The 27-year-old Butler will be a valuable asset to Andy Friend as the Australian negotiates the opening months of his coaching reign in Connacht. He enjoyed a winning start in last weekend’s 33-24 pre-season victory away to French side Brive.

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Butler, a consistent performer throughout the 2017/18 campaign, will lead the province when they host Wasps at Dubarry Park, the home of Buccaneers Rugby Club, this Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3pm). Having caught the eye as replacements against Brive, exciting new signings Kyle Godwin and Joe Maksymiw will make their home debuts at the midlands venue.

Powerful Irish-qualified lock Maksymiw pairs up with ex-Wasp James Cannon in the second row, while Godwin, who has one Australia cap to his name, will line out with Tom Farrell in midfield. Athlone’s own Jack Carty leads a back-line which is anchored by full-back Cian Kelleher who starred with a hat-trick of tries in the Brive match.

Cannon, Butler and Eoin McKeon are the only players retained in a much-changed pack which includes an experienced front row of Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham. Paul Boyle steps in for the injured Eoghan Masterson at blindside flanker.

Connacht’s forward ranks have been hit by injury ahead of the start of the GUINNESS PRO14, with Masterson damaging his hand against Brive. His return date to be confirmed following surgery this week. Fellow back rower Robin Copeland sustained a hip injury in training recently and is undergoing rehabilitation.

Young locks Peter Claffey and Gavin Thornbury are due back in full training in early September following their respective calf and shoulder injuries. It is a similar time-frame for Tom McCartney who suffered an ankle injury recently, and fellow hooker Jonny Murphy is nursing a rib injury from the Brive game.

A big crowd is expected for Connacht’s pre-season meeting with Wasps and spectators are urged to purchase their tickets in advance, especially the stand tickets, at www.connachtrugby.ie/tickets. Prices: stand €;15, ground €;10, junior €;5 and family €;20. Family tickets admit two adults and two juniors to the ground. Cash will also be taken at the turnstiles on match day.

Buccaneers RFC are hosting a pre-match function in the Bounty at Dubarry Park where you can enjoy a three-course meal with complimentary wine and a free stand ticket to the game. Groups and individuals can be catered for. Contact the club administrator Geraldine at 0861732711 or email rugby@dubarrypark.com to book.

CONNACHT (v Wasps): Cian Kelleher; Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, James Cannon, Paul Boyle, Jarrad Butler (capt), Eoin McKeon.

Replacements: Conan O’Donnell, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey, Cillian Gallagher, Sean O’Brien, James Connolly, James Mitchell, Craig Ronaldson, Colm de Buitlear, Rory Scholes, Eoin Griffin, Darragh Leader.