Connacht's Ireland contingent after winning the Triple Crown. Billy Stickland/INPHO

Connacht without Aki, Hansen, and Bealham but Carty and Heffernan return

Shane Delahunt’s season is over due to a hamstring injury.

CONNACHT WILL BE without Ireland internationals Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen, and Finlay Bealham for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship clash with Leinster in Galway, with all three players on a down week after their Six Nations involvement.

However, head coach Andy Friend has been able to welcome back Jack Carty and Dave Heffernan from Ireland camp ahead of the inter-provincial clash, the first of three meetings between the Connacht and Leinster over the next four weekends.

The return of hooker Heffernan is particularly timely, given that Connacht have also confirmed that Shane Delahunt’s season is over.

Delahunt has undergone surgery on the hamstring injury he sustained in the defeat to Edinburgh three weekends ago. With Dylan Tierney-Martin still on his way back from injury, Connacht are left with two fit senior hookers in Heffernan and Jonny Murphy.

The westerners will also be without wing Alex Wootton for this weekend’s clash with Leinster due to a foot injury he suffered against Edinburgh, but there is hope that the 27-year-old will return for the back-to-back Champions Cup round-of-16 clashes with Leinster next month.

Samoan prop Tietie Tuimauga is another player who has been ruled out of this weekend’s tie, having picked up a low-grade calf issue, but he is expected to be back in training next week.

There was better news for Connacht with second row Gavin Thornbury’s return to full training after recovering from a long-term shoulder injury.

The 28-year-old lock hasn’t featured this season at all due to that shoulder issue but is now set to make his comeback.

22-year-old hooker Tierney-Martin is into the final stages of hamstring rehabilitation and is due to recommence team training next week.

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