Connacht Rugby Head Coach Pat Lam has made five changes to his match day 23 for tomorrow’s Champions Cup Round 5 at home to Zebre, with two in the backs and three in the pack.
Picture Credit: HSE
John Cooney (Pictured) will play at out-half for the first time in his career, replacing Roscommon’s Jack Carty, who is currently recovering from a knee injury. The scrumhalf position is filled by the returning Irish international Kieran Marmion. Craig Ronaldson returns from injury to start at inside centre.
Up front, Lewis Stevenson comes in to start in the second row, having made ten appearances from the bench this season. The back row sees the return of captain John Muldoon, who missed out through injury last week. His fellow Galway-man Eoin McKeon is named at openside flanker, having reached the 100-cap milestone at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea last weekend.
James Connolly and Naulia Dawai are named among the replacement forwards. New centre Tom Farrell, who was added to the Connacht Rugby squad this week, is named in his first match day squad for the province in what will also be his Champions Cup debut if he is called upon.
Commenting on the upcoming game, Pat Lam said:
“We’re excited by the challenge that the Champion Cup presents to us and the opportunity to qualify for the last eight of the competition. First up, we have a big game against Zebre tomorrow and are fully focused on putting in a performance to get us the points we need.
“Zebre are determined to get their first win in Europe and we know what they are capable of on their day. We have the advantage of being at home in front of our supporters so it’s up to us to ensure we get the job done.”
The Connacht Rugby Team in full is as follows:
(Connacht caps in brackets)
15 Tiernan O’Halloran (116)
14 Niyi Adeolokun (47)
13 Rory Parata (24)
12 Craig Ronaldson (56)
11 Matt Healy (82)
10 John Cooney (29)
9 Kieran Marmion (113)
1 Denis Buckley (106)
2 Tom McCartney (54)
3 Finlay Bealham (70)
4 Lewis Stevenson (10)
5 James Cannon (7)
6 Sean O’Brien (29)
7 Eoin McKeon (100)
8 John Muldoon (290) (Captain)
16 Dave Heffernan (73)
17 JP Cooney (42)
18 John Andress (2)
19 James Connolly (21)
20 Naulia Dawai (4)
21 Caolin Blade (36)
22 Tom Farrell (0)
23 Danie Poolman (77)
Kick off, at the Sportsground, is at 1pm. The game is live on SKY Sports Mix, which is available to all Sky customers.
Meanwhile Connacht Rugby Eagles head coach Mossy Lawler has named his team to face London Irish at Dubarry Park, Athlone tomorrow at 2pm.
Senior player Josh Rowland returns from long-term injury to start at fullback for the Eagles. Galwegians’ Matthew Byrne and Adam Leavy are on the wings while Ciaran Gaffney who earned two Guinness PRO12 caps with the senior side last month lines out in the centre. The half back pairing is once again made up of Buccaneers’ duo Luke Carty and Conor McKeon.
Roscommon’s Danny Qualter will again Captain the side and is one of three senior players in the pack with Dominic Robertson-McCoy and Rory Moloney also featuring.
Eagles’ head coach Mossy Lawler commented ahead of the round 5 fixture:
“While we’re still looking for our first win of the campaign, what we really want to see as coaches is an improved performance all round. Again, we have a real mix of experience going out tomorrow with limited training time. But we still see it as a great opportunity to test ourselves against a quality side.
“We’re looking forward to playing in Dubarry Park where a lot of the guys would be used to playing with their club side.”
The squad in full is as follows
(Connacht senior caps and affiliated club in brackets)
15 Josh Rowland (Buccaneers RFC)
14 Matthew Byrne (Galwegians RFC)
13 Ciaran Gaffney (Galwegians RFC)
12 Kieran Joyce (Malone RFC)
11 Adam Leavy (Galwegians RFC)
10 Luke Carty (Buccaneers RFC)
9 Conor McKeon (2) (Buccaneers RFC)
1 Jack Dinneen (2) (Galwegians RFC)
2 Shane O’Hehir (Sligo RFC)
3 Dominic Robertson-McCoy (4) (Galwegians RFC)
4 Cillian Gallagher (Sligo RFC)
5 Danny Qualter (Captain) (14) (Buccaneers RFC)
6 Rory Moloney (1) (Buccaneers RFC)
7 Josh Pim (Galwegians RFC)
8 Marc Kelly (Galwegians RFC)
16 Conor Kyne (Galwegians RFC)
17 Saba Meunargia (2) (Buccaneers RFC)
18 Cian Romaine (Buccaneers RFC)
19 Sean Masterson (Corinthians RFC)
20 Stephen Kerins (Corinthians RFC)
21 Morgan Codyre (Galwegians RFC)
22 Joe Murphy (Corinthians RFC)
Connacht Eagles v London Irish
Saturday January 14th 2017
Kick off 2pm
Entry is free for all Connacht Rugby Season Ticket Holders. Under 14’s are also free while it’s just €5 for students, youths and OAP’s and €10 for adults.