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Griffin Set For 100th Cap In Connacht’s Clash With Dragons

Griffin Set For 100th Cap In Connacht’s Clash With Dragons

Galway’s own Eoin Griffin is poised to make his 100th senior appearance for Connacht having been named on the replacements bench for their GUINNESS PRO14 match against the Dragon at the Sportsground on Saturday (kick-off 5.15pm).

Eoin Griffin made his Connacht debut in 2010 and is in his second spell with the province having spent two seasons with London Irish from 2014 to 2016. The 28-year-old centre returned to the Sportsground ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.

With Bundee Aki, Quinn Roux and Finlay Bealham all away on international duty in Chicago, head coach Andy Friend is forced to make a number of changes to the team that suffered an agonising late 22-17 defeat to the Ospreys in Bridgend.

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He is, however, boosted by the availability of Kieran Marmion who starts at scrum half as he prepares for Ireland’s upcoming GUINNESS Series games. Marmion has a new half-back partner with David Horwitz making his first start for the province at out-half. Fellow Australian Kyle Godwin also comes into the midfield alongside Tom Farrell.

There is a first PRO14 start for Academy youngster Colm de Buitléar on the left wing, with Cian Kelleher on the opposite flank and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back. Up front, Conor Carey replaces Bealham at tighthead while James Cannon fills in for Roux in the second row.

The only other change is in the back row where captain Jarrad Butler shifts to the number 8 role with Colby Fainga’a, who impressed off the bench last time out, slotting in at openside. Griffin is joined on the bench by Academy prop Matthew Burke and summer arrival Joe Maksymiw who are both in line for their PRO14 debuts. Click here to buy tickets for Connacht’s round 8 date with the Dragons.

“We’ve got to be a team that can adapt. If we’re allowed to get the quick ball and play the way we want, we will threaten any side,” said Friend, speaking ahead of the visit of Bernard Jackman’s Dragons to Galway.

“If we can’t, whether that’s because of our ball-carrying not being strong enough, or the ball not coming out because tacklers aren’t being removed, then we need to trust our defensive system. Our attack is potent enough if we get the ball we want, but if we can’t we have got to adapt.”

The Australian also gave a special mention to Griffin, saying: “Eoin is the ultimate professional rugby player, who is an example to every up-and-coming player in the province. It is fitting that he is making his 100th appearance in front of his home crowd. It is a significant milestone for him and his family and everyone in Connacht Rugby.”

CONNACHT (v Dragons): Tiernan O’Halloran; Cian Kelleher, Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell, Colm de Buitléar; David Horwitz, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Sean O’Brien, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (capt).

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Conan O’Donnell, Joe Maksymiw, James Connolly, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty, Eoin Griffin.