Jump to main content


Connacht Welcome Back Butler And Arnold For Leinster Game

Connacht Welcome Back Butler And Arnold For Leinster Game

Fit-again captain Jarrad Butler is hoping to lead Connacht to victory against provincial rivals Leinster ©INPHO/Elena Barbini

Connacht head coach Andy Friend has made five changes to the team for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup showdown with Leinster at the Sportsground (kick-off 7.35pm).

Captain Jarrad Butler will make his first appearance in nearly two months following suspension and injury – he comes straight into the starting XV.

Denis Buckley gets the nod in the front row for his 198th appearance, while promising young lock Niall Murray starts in the second row.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Conor Fitzgerald is handed the number 10 jersey following an impressive cameo off the bench against Ulster, while the man who scored the match-winning try in that game, Peter Sullivan, earns a start on the right wing.

There is also a 150th appearance for Connacht’s record try scorer, Matt Healy, who is named on the opposite wing.

Buckley lines up alongside hooker Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham, with Gavin Thornbury completing the tight five. Butler, back at number 8, has Eoghan Masterson and Conor Oliver for company in the loose forwards.

Caolin Blade partners Fitzgerald, while Sean O’Brien and Tom Daly play together at centre for the 5th straight game. With Healy and Sullivan on the wings, John Porch completes the side from full-back.

In addition, there is a welcome return among the replacements for Sam Arnold, who has not featured for four months since undergoing chest surgery.

Commenting on the second round derby, Friend said: “We had a great win last time out in Belfast, but as always this year it’s now about backing that up and getting some consistency going.

“Leinster will travel to the Sportsground wanting to avoid three defeats so that’s a challenge in itself, but we’re also confident we can put in a performance capable of getting a win.

“We’ve got a few players returning from injury which is always good, and Matt Healy hits a significant milestone as well so we’re very pleased with the team we’re able to select.”

CONNACHT (v Leinster): John Porch; Peter Sullivan, Sean O’Brien, Tom Daly, Matt Healy; Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler (capt).

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Cian Prendergast, Abraham Papali’i, Kieran Marmion, Sam Arnold, Oran McNulty.