The Connacht management team have selected a 28-man squad that will travel to South Africa today ahead of next Saturday’s BKT United Rugby Championship match against the DHL Stormers.
Ireland internationals Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen and Finlay Bealham are included and available for selection, as is Jarrad Butler who has recovered from injury.
Also included are four players who were selected for the upcoming Emerging Ireland tour – Caolin Blade, Sam Illo, Cian Prendergast and Dylan Tierney-Martin.
The quartet will be available for selection this coming Saturday in Stellenbosch before then joining up with the Emerging Ireland squad in Bloemfontein.
Further players will fly to South Africa later in the week ahead of Connacht’s third round clash with the Vodacom Bulls on Friday, September 30. They will be announced in due course.
Commenting after Connacht’s disappointing 36-10 defeat to Ulster, director of rugby Andy Friend said: “Going to South Africa, there is actually no better challenge for us because we have some pretty high desires of what we want to achieve this year.
“We want to make play-offs, but look, we’re going to have to fix it and fix it pretty quickly. We know we have work to do.
“Our discipline was really poor (against Ulster), and just the simplicity of some of those errors. For us as a group, the coaches will always look at what we’ve done to make that happen.
“I thought the first 35 minutes was a pretty good contest, there were errors from both sides, but it was one of those arm wrestles, and they got that score just before half time to make it 14-0.
“We kicked the next penalty and came in at half-time, and weren’t happy, but we said we knew it’s tough to win up here. We had 40 minutes to turn the screw and try and get some momentum and pressure, and we did the opposite.”
CONNACHT Squad (v DHL Stormers) – Backs (11): Bundee Aki, Caolin Blade, Tom Daly, Tom Farrell, Conor Fitzgerald, Mack Hansen, David Hawkshaw, Kieran Marmion, Oran McNulty, John Porch, Byron Ralston.
Forwards (17): Jack Aungier, Finlay Bealham, Ciaran Booth, Paul Boyle, Denis Buckley, Jarrad Butler, Peter Dooley, Oisín Dowling, Leva Fifita, Dave Heffernan, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Sam Illo, Josh Murphy, Niall Murray, Cian Prendergast, Grant Stewart, Dylan Tierney-Martin.