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Marmion To Start For Connacht, Aki On The Bench

Marmion To Start For Connacht, Aki On The Bench

Ireland scrum half Kieran Marmion is set to make his first start of the GUINNESS PRO14 campaign as Connacht take on Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm). The game also marks the return of Bundee Aki to the matchday 23.

Kieran Marmion’s selection is one of four changes to the Connacht starting XV that secured a 32-13 bonus point win over Zebre last weekend, with young Sligo prop Conan O’Donnell, lock Ultan Dillane and winger Niyi Adeolokun also included.

21-year-old Academy back rower Paul Boyle is again named at number 8 after his two tries and man-of-the-match performance against the Italians. He is part of an unchanged back row with captain Jarrad Butler at openside and blindside Sean O’Brien.

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Adeolokun’s inclusion on the right wing sees him join a back-three that includes Matt Healy on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back. The centre pairing of Eoin Griffin and Australian recruit Kyle Godwin is also retained with seasonal debutant Bundee Aki set to feature off the bench.

Head coach Andy Friend spoke about the depth in his squad which is leading to some genuine competition for places, stating: “It is pleasing that we have some real depth and quality coming through. It’s how we balance it while rewarding good performances at the same time. We also really need that physicality against this Edinburgh side.

“This week we are welcoming back two more internationals. Kieran Marmion will start, having come off the bench last week. He is a real quality player and it is great to have him in our starting team after getting an extra break following Ireland’s tour to Australia.

“The other big addition is to have Bundee back. He starts off the bench and is raring to go. We face a big challenge in Murrayfield and no doubt Edinburgh will be hurting after the loss (at Ulster) last weekend – it’s another massive challenge for us.”

CONNACHT (v Edinburgh): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Kyle Godwin, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Conan O’Donnell, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Ultan Dillane, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler (capt), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, Colby Fainga’a, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Bundee Aki.