Dublin: 5°C Friday 18 June 2021

Aki back to boost Connacht for Edinburgh but Horwitz's debut on hold

Andy Friend’s side travel to Murrayfield on Friday evening.

Niyi Adeolokun and Bundee Aki before training in Galway yesterday.
Niyi Adeolokun and Bundee Aki before training in Galway yesterday.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IRELAND INTERNATIONAL BUNDEE Aki is in line for his first Guinness Pro14 appearance of the season when Connacht travel to face Edinburgh on Friday evening [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport/Premier Sport].

Andy Friend’s side make the trip to Murrayfield in round three looking for back-to-back wins after their 32-13 victory over Zebre in Galway last Saturday. 

The Irish duo of Kieran Marmion and Quinn Roux both saw minutes off the replacements bench at the Sportsground, and they’ll both likely feature again this week, while lock Ultan Dillane is set to return.

Centre Tom Farrell will miss out, however, after picking up a bug last week and his absence increases the chances of Aki making his seasonal debut. 

“It would be nice,” Friend said, when asked if Aki would be back.

“From the IRFU point of view we are allowed to play them (the internationals) all now.

“Ultan should be back and ready to go. Quinn did really well last week. Marmo came off the bench and hopefully this week we have got Bundee coming back too.

“It’s really good. Dropping those boys back in is only going to add more stability to us.”

The hamstring injury for new recruit David Horwitz continues to delay his debut, but Friend has been impressed with Jack Carty’s performances as he bids to stave off the competition from the 23-year-old Australian.

“Unfortunately at the moment it’s just dragging on that one,” the Connacht coach continued.

“We are hoping he (Horwitz) is going to be back by the end of this month or early October. That’s the plan but it’s a sort of a week-by-week one.

“Jack is going really well. Just the composure he is showing there. He has been really impressive. He kept the ball in front of our forwards which on a wet day is what you want. His option taking was very good.

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Andy Friend Andy Friend speaking at the Sportsground yesterday. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“Defensively he is working his backside off. That energy and that desire and the attitude of every point matters is really important to us.”

Colby Fainga’a made his first appearance for Connacht against Zebre, and Friend believes he can be a massive addition in a competitive back row.

“Colby, we know is a 100-capped Super Rugby player, and he could easily come in. But do we drop a bloke because Colby is coming back? I’m not sure yet,” said Friend.

“They all add something slightly different. Straight away you look at Colby out there the other day, and his speed to get onto that ball. He got one good steal and in my view he deserved another.

“But he is always there and thereabouts. He adds that little link play as well. He can play six or seven but he can play eight too and that’s the beauty of it. If you ask him he can play anywhere.

“He has got immense skill, you saw the little chip through that he did the other day. If he sees it he will play it. He is the younger version of George Smith.”

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Daragh Small

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