Ireland internationals Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan have both been included in the Connacht squad to face the Isuzu Southern Kings in the GUINNESS PRO14 this Sunday in Port Elizabeth (kick-off 3pm local time/1pm Irish time).
The pair were both released from the Ireland camp following the postponement of the Guinness Six Nations game Italy, and duly met up with the Andy Friend’s men for the one-match trip to South Africa.
Dillane, who gained his latest cap off the bench against England last weekend, starts in the second row alongside Joe Maksymiw, with Heffernan named among the replacements. There are six changes to the Connacht team that lost 41-14 away to Edinburgh.
Paddy McAllister is drafted back into the front row alongside hooker Shane Delahunt, while there is also a start for prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy following the ankle injury that Finlay Bealham suffered in Scotland.
The back row is unchanged for the third round in a row as captain Jarrad Butler packs down with flankers Paul Boyle and Colby Fainga’a either side of him. Caolin Blade and Tom Daly are added to the back-line, partnering Jack Carty and Kyle Godwin at half-back and centre respectively.
The final switch comes on the left wing where the fit-again Matt Healy, Connacht’s record try scorer, makes up the back-three with John Porch and Tiernan O’Halloran, the scorer of Connacht’s two tries against Conference B leaders Edinburgh.
Keen to put the disappointment of last week’s performance behind them, Connacht head coach Friend said: “We didn’t get the result we wanted in Edinburgh, so this week has been all about ensuring we get another win on the board. The Kings are a dangerous side, especially at home, so we will have to be at our very best.
“We’ve been able to call on two international footballers in Dave and Ultan which is a nice boost for us. This mini-block of three games is key for us, so I believe we’ve named a squad that can get the job done on Sunday and finish on a high before the short break.”
CONNACHT (v Isuzu Southern Kings): Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Kyle Godwin, Tom Daly, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Paddy McAllister, Shane Delahunt, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (capt).
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Buckley, Conor Kenny, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, Kieran Marmion, Conor Fitzgerald, Peter Robb.