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Connacht Select Strong Side For Pool Finale

Connacht Select Strong Side For Pool Finale

Mack Hansen returns to the Connacht team for their final pool game away to Stade Francais ©INPHO/James Crombie

Connacht head coach Andy Friend has announced his team for Sunday’s final Heineken Champions Cup pool clash with Stade Francais at Stade Jean Bouin (kick-off 2pm local time/1pm Irish time).

While qualification to the knockout stages could be secured before kick-off, Friend and his fellow coaches have still selected a strong side that will be looking for their second win of the campaign.

There are two changes among the forwards from the Leicester Tigers game last week, with young props Jordan Duggan and Greg McGrath coming into the starting XV.

They are joined in the front row by hooker Shane Delahunt, while Oisin Dowling, Niall Murray, Ireland development player Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver and Jarrad Butler make up the rest of the pack.

There are four changes to the back-line as Caolin Blade, Mack Hansen, who has earned a call-up to Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations squad, Tom Farrell and Alex Wootton are all brought in.

Jack Carty captains the province again from out-half, Sam Arnold moves from outside centre to the inside berth, and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran is retained for his 199th Connacht appearance.

Looking forward to the showdown with Stade, Friend said: “For us we’re not thinking about results elsewhere. All we’re focused on is going to Paris, take what we learned from last week and hopefully finish our pool stage on a high.

“If we can do that then we can celebrate a great achievement of reaching knockout rugby in this competition.

“With dry weather and their 4G pitch it’s looking like it’ll be a fast tempo game, so we’ve selected a side that reflects that.”

CONNACHT (v Stade Francais): Tiernan O’Halloran; Alex Wootton, Tom Farrell, Sam Arnold, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty (capt), Caolin Blade; Jordan Duggan, Shane Delahunt, Greg McGrath, Oisin Dowling, Niall Murray, Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Charlie Ward, Sam Illo, Leva Fifita, Paul Boyle, Colm Reilly, Conor Fitzgerald, Diarmuid Kilgallen.