Returning Ireland trio named to start in Connacht's crucial game against Cardiff Blues

Bundee Aki, Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan are all back for Saturday’s fixture at the Sportsground.

Ultan Dillane and Bundee Aki start for Connact (file photo).
Ultan Dillane and Bundee Aki start for Connact (file photo).
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Andy Friend has named his team for this weekend’s Pro14 clash against the Cardiff Blues. 

Having kept their slim hopes of reaching the competition’s final alive with a bonus point victory away to the Newport Dragons a fortnight ago, they host Welsh opposition at the Sportsground on Saturday (7.35pm).

After being released by Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, trio Bundee Aki, Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan all return to the starting XV — in place of Peter Robb, Shane Delahunt and Niall Murray.

Jarrad Butler is back to captain the side, while prop Jordan Duggan makes his first start for the province.

Alex Wootton replaces Peter Sullivan on the wing, Eoghan Masterson comes into the back row and Abraham Papali’i is among the replacements with Tiernan O’Halloran.

“It’s great to welcome Dave, Ultan and Bundee back into the fold, and they’re re-joining an already healthy group of players,” said Friend.

“We had tough news for Quinn Roux and Peter Robb this week but overall we’re in a good spot and that’s allowed us to pick a squad based on form.”

“Tomorrow marks the start of a block of games that will ultimately define our season,” he added.

“We have a great opportunity to keep the pressure on Munster at the top while opening some daylight between ourselves and the chasing pack. We know our home form isn’t where it should be so this is our opportunity to put that right”.

Connacht (v Cardiff Blues):

15. John Porch
14. Alex Wootton
13. Tom Daly
12. Bundee Aki
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Caolin Blade

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1. Jordan Duggan
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Ultan Dillane 
5. Gavin Thornbury
6. Eoghan Masterson
7. Jarrad Butler (capt)
8. Paul Boyle


16. Shane Delahunt 
17. Denis Buckley 
18. Jack Aungier 
19. Oisin Dowling 
20. Abraham Papali’i 
21. Kieran Marmion 
22. Sean O’Brien (Academy) 
23. Tiernan O’Halloran 

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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