New signing Kyle Godwin is set to make his Connacht debut when they host Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground in the opening game of their GUINNESS PRO14 campaign on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
Australian recruit Kyle Godwin continues his promising centre partnership from pre-season, lining out with last year’s Connacht Fans’ Player of the Season, Tom Farrell, as the Andy Friend era gets underway in Galway with a mouth-watering clash with Glasgow.
Connacht’s starting back-line for the round 1 fixture includes Ireland international Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back with the province’s record try scorer Matt Healy and Cian Kelleher on the wings. There are also starting berths for Jack Carty and Caolin Blade at half-back.
Props Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham start at loosehead and tighthead respectively with Mayo native Dave Heffernan given the nod at hooker. Newly-appointed captain Jarrad Butler is selected at openside flanker and Academy player Paul Boyle’s impressive pre-season form earns him his first PRO14 start on the blindside.
The 21-year-old Boyle, who hails from the Wexford town of Gorey, captained the Ireland Under-20s at the 2017 World Rugby U-20 Championship and linked up last summer with the Connacht Academy and Buccaneers via the Leinster sub-Academy. He made his PRO14 debut off the bench against Munster in January.
Following three wins from three in pre-season, Connacht’s new head coach Friend knows there will be bigger challenges ahead, starting with the visit of Glasgow. “We’ve had three good pre-season games. You don’t win championships in pre-season, but you can lose them. We’re at the start line in pretty good shape but it’s what we do from here that’s important,” said the Australian.
“We are expecting a massive challenge from Glasgow on Saturday afternoon. They got off to a roaring start in last year’s campaign and I have no doubt they will be looking to do something similar this season.
“They have great strength and depth in their squad so it going to be a big challenge. I have heard so much about the atmosphere that our fans create at the Sportsground and I can’t wait to experience it on Saturday.”
Tickets are still available for what will be an exciting first chapter of a busy month of rugby in Connacht, the province’s self-titled ‘Month of Champions’. Click here to secure your Connacht v Glasgow Warriors ticket(s).
CONNACHT (v Glasgow Warriors): Tiernan O’Halloran; Cian Kelleher, Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Paul Boyle, Jarrad Butler (capt), Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Cillian Gallagher, James Mitchell, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun.