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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 16 January, 2019
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Academy players to start as Connacht make 6 changes for trip to France to face Perpignan

Andy Friend’s side won out 22-10 at the Sportsground last weekend.

Conor Fitzgerald during training at the Sportsground this week.
Conor Fitzgerald during training at the Sportsground this week.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

TWO ACADEMY PLAYERS will start on the Connacht team and another one will be on the bench for the province’s away tie tomorrow night against Perpignan in the European Challenge Cup [KO 7pm].

After last week’s 22-10 win at the Sportsground over their French opponents, coach Andy Friend has made plenty changes for the return tie with Bundee Aki, Finlay Bealham and Quinn Roux amongst those to drop out of the team.

Kieran Joyce, who made his full senior debut last week, retains his place in midfield with another Academy player Conor Fitzgerald handed the number 1o jersey. Joyce will partner David Horwitz who switches from out-half.

The team is captained by Dave Heffernan who will start in a pack that has five additions in the form of Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, Gavin Thornbury, Sean O’Brien and Robin Copeland.

“We have selected a blend of youth and experience in our side,” remarked Friend.

“We are seeing strong competition within the squad and that is hugely important as we head into the second half of the season.

“There are a few academy players in our match day squad again this weekend and that has been a feature of our selections this season. Conor Fitzgerald, Kieran Joyce and Matthew Burke have performed well when called on so far and that is why we have selected them again.”

Connacht:

15. Darragh Leader
14. Cian Kelleher
13. Kieran Joyce
12. David Horwitz
11. Matt Healy
10. Conor Fitzgerald
9. James Mitchell

1. Peter McCabe
2. Dave Heffernan (captain)
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
4. James Cannon
5. Gavin Thornbury
6. Sean O’Brien
7. James Connolly
8. Robin Copeland

Replacements:

16. Tom McCartney
17. Matthew Burke
18. Conor Carey
19. Joe Maksymiw
20. Eoghan Masterson
21. Caolin Blade
22. Jack Carty
23. Kyle Godwin

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Eddie O’Sullivan preview another big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.


Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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Fintan O'Toole

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