A 29-man Connacht squad left for Cape Town this morning ahead of the BKT United Rugby Championship semi-final against the DHL Stormers on Saturday.
The westerners’ management team have reported a clean bill of health from last weekend, with the travelling squad including all 23 players who featured in Belfast.
Also included are Connacht natives Eoin de Buitléar, Cathal Forde, Darragh Murray and Colm Reilly, as well as props Peter Dooley and Dominic Robertson-McCoy.
An impressive run of six wins in a row in the run-up to the play-offs helped Connacht qualify for the quarter-finals where they shocked provincial rivals Ulster by winning 15-10, with captain Jack Carty kicking five penalties.
This is also not their first shot at the title as they won the league (then called the PRO12) in 2016, overcoming the likes of Leinster, Munster, Glasgow Warriors and the Ospreys in the process.
Looking forward to the set-piece battle with the Stormers this coming Saturday, Ireland prop Finlay Bealham said: “The South Africans, they love their scrummaging. Down there it is the bread and butter for them.
“They have their own style of scrummaging so it is good to get a taste for that at provincial level. It’s not as massive of a shock when you play them at international level.
“The Stormers have an all front row of Springboks, like (Steven) Kitshoff, he is a world class operator, (Frans) Malherbe as well, he is a world class operator. They really back themselves and well they should, they are an unbelievable unit.
“We respect them a lot in the scrum but we are going to do everything we can to make it a weapon for us. I prefer to scrummage against a pack like the Stormers where they are going to come straight for you and you have got to meet fire with fire.
“There won’t be too much messing around, they will be straight in – no kissing! – so I’m looking forward to the challenge. We need our biggest performance of the year against these guys. They are an unbelievable unit with world class internationals.”
CONNACHT Squad (v DHL Stormers) – Backs (12): Bundee Aki, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty (capt), Tom Daly, Tom Farrell, Cathal Forde, Mack Hansen, Kieran Marmion, John Porch, Tiernan O’Halloran, Byron Ralston, Colm Reilly.
Forwards (17): Jack Aungier, Finlay Bealham, Denis Buckley, Jarrad Butler, Eoin de Buitléar, Peter Dooley, Oisin Dowling, Jordan Duggan, Dave Heffernan, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Josh Murphy, Darragh Murray, Niall Murray, Conor Oliver, Cian Prendergast, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Dylan Tierney-Martin.