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Connacht Make Three Changes For Visit Of Leicester

Connacht Make Three Changes For Visit Of Leicester

Matt Healy, Connacht's record try scorer, is pictured in pre-season action for the province against Worcester Warriors ©INPHO/Robbie Stephenson

The Connacht team to play Leicester Tigers at the Sportsground on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3.15pm) has been named.

Andy Friend’s men are aiming to go one step closer to a first appearance in the Heineken Champions Cup knockout rounds.

There are three changes to the side that defeated Munster on New Year’s Day, two of those coming in the tight five where Shane Delahunt starts at hooker and Niall Murray gets the nod at lock.

The 22-year-old Murray pairs up with Oisin Dowling (24) in a youthful engine room, while Matthew Burke and Ireland international Finlay Bealham complete the front row.

Jarrad Butler anchors an unchanged back row, alongside Cian Prendergast and Conor Oliver. The half-back pairing of captain Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion, with 365 appearances between them, also remains in place.

Sam Arnold and Bundee Aki continue together in the centre and the final change is in the back-three where Connacht’s record try scorer, Matt Healy, makes his seasonal debut on the left wing.

Mack Hansen, who aggravated a calf injury in training, misses out, with John Porch lining out on the right and Clifden man Tiernan O’Halloran holding onto the number 15 jersey.

Among the replacements is Paul Boyle who has recovered from injury to return to the matchday 23 for the first time since the end of November.

Commenting on the third round clash with Tigers, head coach Friend said: “This is a huge game and a huge opportunity for the province, but we’ve been treating this like any other game that we want to win.

“We’ve grown as a group even in the last month since we visited Leicester, so now it’s all about executing and playing as well as I know we’re capable of.

“We’ll no doubt miss the few extra thousand supporters who would’ve been at the Sportsground without the current (Covid-19) restrictions, but I’m sure those lucky enough to have a ticket will make their voices heard.”

CONNACHT (v Leicester Tigers): Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Sam Arnold, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; Jack Carty (capt), Kieran Marmion; Matthew Burke, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Oisin Dowling, Niall Murray, Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Tietie Tuimauga, Jack Aungier, Ultan Dillane, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Farrell.