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Hawkshaw To Make First Connacht Start In Pretoria

Hawkshaw To Make First Connacht Start In Pretoria

Former Ireland Under-20 captain David Hawkshaw is hoping to impress against the Vodacom Bulls ©INPHO/Ben Brady

23-year-old out-half David Hawkshaw will make his first start for Connacht when they face the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday (kick-off 6.30pm local time/5.30pm Irish time).

Connacht complete their early season BKT United Rugby Championship tour in South Africa, with seven personnel changes to the side that lost 38-15 to the DHL Stormers last week.

Hawkshaw forms a new-look half-back pairing with Ireland international Kieran Marmion, while the only other change to the westerners’ back-line is the return of Tom Daly to the inside centre berth.

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Tom Farrell switches to outside centre and the province will look to get the best out of an unchanged back-three of Oran McNulty, who makes his 11th appearance, John Porch and Mack Hansen.

With Dylan Tierney-Martin and Cian Prendergast involved in the Emerging Ireland tour, Dave Heffernan returns at hooker and former Leinster forward Josh Murphy moves from the second row to the blindside flanker berth.

Tongan international Leva Fifita and Oisin Dowling will pack down together at lock, while captain Jarrad Butler, who is closing in on his 100th Connacht cap, shifts to number 8. Conor Oliver completes the back row at openside.

The Connacht management have opted for a six-two split on the bench. Former Glasgow Warriors hooker Grant Stewart and Academy graduate Ciaran Booth, the former Ireland Under-20 international, are standing by to make their debuts.

Commenting on preparations for Connacht’s second match in South Africa, director of rugby Andy Friend said: “Whilst our first two performances (in the URC) have been disappointing and below our own expectations, the mood within the team remains positive.

“Everyone has been working really to hard iron out some the issues that have hindered us in the opening rounds, and we’re excited about the opportunity that the Bulls presents.

“All five players who joined us, post the Stormers match, have proven to be great additions for us, especially our team captain Jack Carty.

“It’s been fantastic to have him back training with us for the first time this season, and he’s on target for selection in the not too distant future.”

CONNACHT (v Vodacom Bulls): Oran McNulty; John Porch, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Mack Hansen; David Hawkshaw, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Leva Fifita, Oisín Dowling, Josh Murphy, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler (capt).

Replacements: Grant Stewart, Peter Dooley, Jack Aungier, Gavin Thornbury, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Colm Reilly, Byron Ralston, Ciaran Booth.