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Connacht Boosted By Return Of Aki, Adeolokun And Buckley

Connacht Boosted By Return Of Aki, Adeolokun And Buckley

Prop Denis Buckley is pictured throwing a pass during Connacht's GUINNESS PRO14 quarter-final clash with Ulster last season ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Connacht have been boosted by the return of a number of players for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 meeting with the Isuzu Southern Kings at the Sportsground (kick-off 5.15pm). Tickets are available to buy online here.

Bundee Aki is named at inside centre having missed last week’s Heineken Champions Cup defeat to Toulouse. He features alongside Kyle Godwin and there is also a return from injury for Niyi Adeolokun who joins a speed-laden back-three with John Porch on the opposite wing and Matt Healy at full-back.

The westerners’ back-line is completed by half-backs Conor Fitzgerald and Caolin Blade, while Denis Buckley has recovered from illness to start at loosehead prop, lining out in an all-new front row with tighthead Finlay Bealham and in-form hooker Tom McCartney.

Quinn Roux continues to captain the side from the second row alongside Ultan Dillane. Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a and Paul Boyle will pack down in the back row, and club captain Jarrad Butler is likely to see some game-time after missing the opening two games in Europe due to injury.

Commenting on the team announcement, head coach Andy Friend said: “We were very disappointed not to come away with anything from France last week, so this is a good opportunity for the squad to bounce back. Bundee, Niyi and Jarrad are all back in the squad so we’re improving on the injury front.

“It’s important to keep our discipline in games like this. The Kings have had two weeks without a game, so all their focus has been on us, and they’ll be looking to build on their win away to the Ospreys as well. We’re heading into the Gloucester games so it’s important we keep building our performances.”

CONNACHT (v Isuzu Southern Kings): Matt Healy; Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Bundee Aki, John Porch; Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux (capt), Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a, Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Joe Maksymiw, Jarrad Butler, Angus Lloyd, Jack Carty, Peter Robb.