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Connacht Select Unchanged Squad For URC Semi-Final

Connacht Select Unchanged Squad For URC Semi-Final

Ireland star Bundee Aki is pictured training at the Sportsground before Connacht's departure for Cape Town ©INPHO/James Crombie

The Connacht coaches have chosen an unchanged matchday 23 for Saturday’s BKT United Rugby Championship semi-final against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town (kick-off 4pm local time/3pm Irish time).

After last week’s historic win in Belfast, Pete Wilkins and Andy Friend have stuck with the same starters and replacements after the squad came through the game without any injuries.

Jack Carty captains the side, while it will be a 99th appearance for centre Tom Farrell, and prop Jack Aungier will earn his 50th cap for the province if introduced from bench.

Victory for Connacht would see them reach a major final for only the second time in their history, after the PRO12 success of 2016. The decider will take place on Saturday week, held at the designated venue of the highest-ranked team.

Connacht’s director of rugby Friend commented: “Last Friday night, to anyone outside the squad, we were the clear underdogs, and tomorrow will be no different. Yet for us on the inside, there is enormous belief in our ability, and that is all that matters.

“We enter the semi-final with the same 23 that started last week, which is great testament to our players’ toughness and resilience, and also to the work of our athletic performance and medical teams.

“All bodies are fit and healthy and have fully recovered from the travel down here to Cape Town. Tomorrow will be a huge game as we take on the defending champions in their own backyard, but these are the days you want to be involved in.

“Pete Wilkins and the other coaches have presented a very clever game-plan, and with the confidence that’s in the squad at present, there’s genuine excitement about the challenge and opportunity that tomorrow brings.”

CONNACHT (v DHL Stormers): Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty (capt), Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Josh Murphy, Niall Murray, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Conor Oliver, Cian Prendergast.

Replacements: Dylan Tierney-Martin, Jordan Duggan, Jack Aungier, Oisin Dowling, Jarrad Butler, Kieran Marmion, Tom Daly, Byron Ralston.